Thursday, August 18, 2005

Federal tort trials and verdicts, 2002-2003

Here, via this RiskProf post, is a study of the outcomes of tort cases in federal court during the period 2002-2003.

Some highlights:

"From 1985 to 2003 the number of tort trials terminated in U.S. district courts declined 79%."

"The growing use of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) is frequently cited as a primary contributor to the falling trial rate. The AOUSC reports that in 2002 mediation and arbitration programs were used in 49 Federal judicial districts and impacted more than 25,000 civil cases. Other legal scholars have speculated that the increased complexity and costs inherent in taking a case to trial have contributed to the decreasing number of trials in U.S. district courts."

In 2002-2003, "[p]laintiffs won in almost half of tort trials, and the estimated median award garnered by plaintiff winners in these trials was $201,000."

"Plaintiffs prevailed in over half of personal injury tort trials involving Federal employers’ liability (69%), motor vehicle (57%), and marine (54%) claims. In comparison, plaintiffs won less frequently in assault/libel/slander (38%), medical malpractice (37%), and product liability (34%) tort trials decided
in U.S. district courts."

"Although judges found for plaintiffs more often than juries, the estimated median damage award was higher in jury ($244,000) than in bench ($150,000) tort trials."

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