Hostname: page-component-8448b6f56d-t5pn6 Total loading time: 0 Render date: 2024-04-17T06:25:30.362Z Has data issue: false hasContentIssue false

When Businesses Sue Each Other: An Empirical Study of State Court Litigation

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  27 December 2018


Using a mixture of court docket data and case files, we construct a data set of business litigation in Rhode Island Superior Court during 1987 and 1988. Business litigation is defined as a suit involving an economic firm as both a plaintiff and a defendant. The empirical analysis complements recent scholarship providing answers to descriptive questions about the frequency, nature of, parties to, and intensity of the business litigation docket. Using Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) codes, indicators of industry participation in litigation are developed, and positive analysis undertaken to explain variation across industries. Several hypothesis are developed and tested using quantitative analysis. We conclude that contextual economic conditions favoring the creation of long-term business relationships help prevent litigation between firms.

Copyright © American Bar Foundation, 2000 

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)


Bernstein, Lisa. 1996. Symposium: Law, Economics, and Norms: Merchant Law in a Merchant Court: Rethinking the Code's Search for Immanent Business Norms. University of Pennsylvania Law Review 144:17651821.Google Scholar
Cheit, Ross. 1990. Patterns of Contemporary Business Litigation in Rhode Island. Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Law and Society Association, Berkeley, California, May 31-June 3.Google Scholar
Dunworth, Terence, and Pace, Nicholas M. 1990. Statistical Overview of Civil Litigation in the Federal Courts. Santa Monica, Calif: Rand Corporation.Google Scholar
Dunworth, Terence, and Rogers, Joel. 1996. Corporations in Court: Big Business Litigation in US. Federal Courts, 1971–;1991. Law and Social Inquiry 21:497592.Google Scholar
Esser, John P. 1996. Institutionalizing Industry: The Changing Forms of Contract. Law and Social Inquiry 21:593629.Google Scholar
Felstiner, William L. F., Richard Abel, L., and Sarat, Austin. 198081. The Emergence and Transformation of Disputes: Naming, Blaming, Claiming. Law and Society Re-view 15:631–54.Google Scholar
Friedman, Lawrence M. 1990. Opening the Time Capsule: A Progress Report on Studies of Courts over Time. Law and Society Review 24:229–40.Google Scholar
Galanter, Marc. 1974. Why the “Haves” Come out Ahead: Speculations on the Limits of Legal Change. Law and Society Review 9:95160.Google Scholar
Galanter, Marc, and Charles Epp, R. 1992. A Beginner's Guide to the Litigation Maze. Business Economics 27:3338.Google Scholar
Galanter, Marc, and Rogers, Joel. 1991. The Transformation of American Business Disputing: Some Preliminary Observations. Disputes Processing Research Program Working Paper no. 10–;3. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press.Google Scholar
Givens, Richard. 1989. Business Torts and Competitive Litigation. Colorado Springs, Colo.: McGraw-Hill Information Services.Google Scholar
Gudjarati, Damodar N. 1980. Basic Econometrics. New York: McGraw Hill.Google Scholar
Kaufman, Patrick J., and Louis Stem, W. 1988. Relational Exchange Norms, Perceptions of Unfairness, and Retained Hostility in Commercial Litigation. Journal of Conflict Resolution 32:534–52.Google Scholar
Kenworthy, Lane, Macaulay, Stewart, and Rogers, Joel. 1996. “The More Things Change”: Business Litigation and Governance in the American Automobile Industry. Law and Social Inquiy 21:631–78.Google Scholar
Kreps, David M. 1990. A Course in Microeconomic Theory. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
Lempert, Richard. 1990. Docket Data and “Local Knowledge”: Studying the Court and Society Over Time. Law and Society Review 21:321–32.Google Scholar
Macaulay, Stewart. 1963. Non-contractual Relations in Business: A Preliminary Study. American Sociological Review 28:5567.Google Scholar
Macneil, I. R. 1980. The New Social Contract. New Haven: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
McIntosh, Wayne V. 1990. The Appeal of Civil Law: A Political-Economic Analysis of Litigation. Urbana: University of Illinois Press.Google Scholar
Munger, Frank. 1986. Commercial Litigation in West Virginia State and Federal Courts 1870–;1940. American Journal of Legal History 30:322–49.Google Scholar
Munger, Frank. 1988. Law, Change, and Litigation: A Critical Examination of an Empirical Research Tradition. Law and Society Review 22:57101.Google Scholar
Munger, Frank. 1990. Trial Courts and Social Change: The Evolution of a Field of Study. Law and Society Review 24:217–26.Google Scholar
Png, I. P. L. 1983. Strategic Behavior in Suit, Settlement, and Trial. Bell Journal of Economics 14:539–50.Google Scholar
Ryll, Wolfgang. 1996. Litigation and Settlement in a Game with Incomplete Information. Berlin: Springer.Google Scholar
Schweizer, Urs. 1989. Litigation and Settlement under Two-sided Incomplete Information. Review of Economic Studies 56:163–77.Google Scholar
United States. Department of Commerce. Bureau of Economic Analysis. 2000. Regional Accounts Data: Gross State Product. Scholar
Wallis, John Joseph, and North, Douglass C. 1986. Measuring the Transaction Sector in the American Economy. In Long Term Factors in American Economic Growth, ed. Stanley Engerman, L. and Robert Gallman, E. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
Wheeler, Stanton, Cartwright, Bliss, Robert, A. Kagan, and Lawrence Friedman, M. 1987. Do the “Haves” Come out Ahead? Winning and Losing in State Supreme Courts, 1870–;1970. Law and Society Review 21:403–45.Google Scholar