The Relation between Regulation and Class Actions

Evidence from the Insurance Industry

by Eric Helland, Jonathan Klick

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In the United States insurance is regulated both by state insurance commissions and class action litigation. The interaction of these two systems has not been extensively studied. The authors examine four different facets of the regulation litigation tradeoff. The first is to examine whether regulator's interest in a particular cause of action reduces the likelihood that class actions covering this cause of action will be filed in the regulator's home state. They also examine several measures of regulatory stringency in the state to determine whether there is a substitution effect between regulatory action and litigation. They also examine whether class actions are less frequent when regulators issued an administrative decision on a particular issue previously or if there are no existing state laws on the particular issue. They examine the impact of electing judges on patterns of filing. The hypothesis is that elected judges are more sympathetic to plaintiffs and hence class actions are more likely to be filed in states that elect their judges. Lastly, they examine the impact of previous litigation both in the state and the specific line of litigation.

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