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Bureau of Justice Statistics 2005 Report on Civil Trials in State Courts

The report has just been published. Here's a link to the free pdf file. http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/pub/pdf/cbjtsc05.pdf


1) In 2005 plaintiffs won in more than half (56%) of all general civil trials concluded in state courts.

2) Interestingly, plaintiffs were significantly more likely to win bench trials compared to jury trials. [Perhaps plaintiffs choose juries when their cases are much weaker, however?]

3) Approximately 4% of victorious plaintiffs won over $1,000,000. The median tort award was $24,000.

4) The total number of civil trials declined by over 50% from 1992 to 2005 in the nation's 75 most populous counties. Tort cases decreased the least (40% -- (perhaps because of asbestos bankruptcies) while real property (77%) and contract (63%) cases registered the largest declines.

5) In the 75 most populous counties, two tort categories saw marked increases in median jury awards. This was particularly the case for product liability trials, where median awards were about 5 times higher in 2005 than in 1992, and for medical malpractice trials, where median jury awards more than doubled from $280,000 in 1992 to $682,000 in 2005 (an increase over 60% greater than inflation alone would predict).

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Rafael Mangual
Project Manager,
Legal Policy

Manhattan Institute


Published by the Manhattan Institute

The Manhattan Insitute's Center for Legal Policy.