Plaintiff entities, awards, and decision justifications in a toxic tort case.
AuthorCatchings, Billy Wayne.
Committee ChairEwbank, Henry
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractThe ecological composition of plaintiff entities may vary in size and sociographics in toxic tort litigation. The amount of awards and the justifications for those awards in the various plaintiff situations are unknown. Consolidation which is procedurally distinct from class consolidation procedurally distinct from class action is an alternative litigation strategy for mass torts. While it is well-grounded in English common law, jury decision making in consolidated actions has not been extensively examined by social scientific, legal, or communication researchers. In light of the limited research in this area, awards and decision justifications were gathered from two populations of surrogate jurors. Subjects were asked to decide on the amount of money to award a single plaintiff or a small aggregate, small group, large aggregate or large group of plaintiffs in a written summary of a hypothetical toxic substance case. In addition, respondents were asked to explain the reason(s) for their award decisions. The average award in each situation was in the mid-point area of a range from zero to one million dollars. The amount implies that on average respondents were inclined to give all plaintiff entities approximately $500,000. The justifications for the awards were organized into the following nine categories determined by the application of Toulmin's model of argument: (1)~Company Attribution - CA; (2)~Employee Attribution - EA; (3)~Attribution to Both Employee and Company - BA; (4)~Evaluation Pro-Plaintiff - EPP; (5)~Evaluation Pro-Defendant - EPD; (6)~Sufficient Compensation - SC; (7)~Company Attribution/Sufficient Compensation - CASC; (8)~Employee Attribution/Sufficient Compensation - EASC; and (9)~Both Attribution/Sufficient Compensation - BASC. The underlying warrants(s) in the responses served as the label for each category. The classifications revealed a categorical advantage for the plaintiff(s). Respondents provided justifications beyond strict attributions of responsibility to the parties involved. Need for compensation and a positive regard for plaintiffs, for example, were issues which emerged in the justifications Attribution of responsibility to the employee was a consistent basis for monetary decisions for subjects who decided not to award any compensation. Respondents who were maximum award givers, however, deviated from attributions in the small aggregate, small group, and large aggregate situations.