Chris Guthrie

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University of Chicago Law Review

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frivolous suits, psychological leverage, low probability, risk-seeing behavior


Dispute Resolution and Arbitration | Law


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



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