Friday, September 30, 2005

Bureau of Justice Statistics Reports Long-Term Decline in Federal Tort Trials

The Department of Justice's Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) recently issued a report on jury and bench tort trials in federal district courts showing that the number of tort trials concluded in U.S. district courts declined by nearly 80 percent - from 3,600 trials in 1985 to fewer than 800 trials in 2003. The report also shows that approximately nine out of 10 tort trials involved personal injury issues - most frequently, product liability, motor vehicle (accident), marine and medical malpractice cases. Also revealed is the fact that the percentage of tort cases concluded by trial in U.S. district courts has declined from 10 percent in the early 1970s to 2 percent in 2003.

Here's the abstract for the report:

"Presents findings on jury and bench tort trials concluded in Federal district courts during fiscal years 2002-03. Analyzing public use data assembled by the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts and BJS, the report is the latest edition in a series on the topic of tort trials. Information includes the types of tort cases that proceed to trial, plaintiff win rates, case processing times, and estimated median damage awards. The report also describes the types of Federal jurisdiction in tort trial cases, the differences between tort bench and jury trials, and details about asbestos and non-asbestos product liability trials (1990 - 2003). The overall trends in tort trial litigation from 1970 to 2003 are also examined."

To view the report, click To see the August 17, 2005 press release announcing the report, click


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