The paper by Professor Valerie Hans that I have been asked to comment on examines the widespread expectation that jurors are prepared to hold businesses responsible in tort actions when they would not hold individual actors similarly responsible.1 Two reasons are commonly offered for this expectation. The first is that jurors naturally sympathize with individuals (like themselves) when people sue businesses, either because they identify with the plaintiffs as individuals or because they hold antibusiness attitudes. The second is that because businesses are often wealthy, a "deep pockets" effect exists such that jurors in negligence cases will find for undeserving plaintiffs or will give plaintiffs who should prevail more money than they deserve because the defendant is a large business and "can afford it." Professor Hans' research, and work by others that she reviews calls these assumptions into question.
Lempert, Richard O. "Why Do Juries Get a Bum Rap? Reflections on the Work of Valerie Hans." DePaul Law Review 48, no. 2 (1998): 453-462. (Symposium: The American Civil Jury: Illusion and Reality.)