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Framing Frivolous Litigation: A Psychological Theory
University of Chicago Law Review
  • Chris Guthrie
Document Type
Publication Date
  • frivolous suits,
  • psychological leverage,
  • low probability,
  • risk-seeing behavior

This Article uses an often-overlooked component of prospect theory to develop a positive theory of frivolous or low-probability litigation. The proposed Frivolous Framing Theory posits that the decision frame in frivolous litigation induces risk-seeking behavior in plaintiffs and risk averse behavior in defendants. Because plaintiffs in frivolous litigation have a greater tolerance for risk than the defendants they have sued, plaintiffs in frivolous litigation have "psychological leverage" in settlement negotiations, which is likely to lead to plaintiff-friendly settlements or bargaining impasse. This in turn, suggests that reformers concerned about frivolous litigation should target reform efforts at plaintiffs' decisionmaking in frivolous suits. e

Citation Information
Chris Guthrie. "Framing Frivolous Litigation: A Psychological Theory" University of Chicago Law Review Vol. 67 (2000) p. 163
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