Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Political Science

First Advisor

Dr. Jennifer Erkulwater


In this thesis, I argue that the courts are not effective policy-makers because they are a channel for resolving disputes between individuals. I first present the basics of medical malpractice litigation and some of the current literature on the courts as policy-makers. I then address the cultural trends that have made this form of individual dispute resolution common and acceptable, particularly for my case study of medical malpractice. Then I show how some of the individualized aspects of the legal system distort the deterrent effect of lawsuits. I focus on the poor fit between actual negligence and lawsuits that results in a system in which cases are initiated by individuals. I also address the unpredictability of juries when they evaluate liability and damages in cases. Because the decisions of courts are highly dependent on the individual actors in individual disputes, they are not predictable and therefore cannot produce consistent policy.