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Federal Tort Trials and Verdicts, 1994-95

NCJ Number
Date Published
December 1997
9 pages
A H Press; C J DeFrances
Publication Series
During 1994-1995, U.S. district courts terminated an average of 229,000 civil cases per year, and about 18 percent were tort cases.
Of 82,333 tort cases terminated, an average of 41,166 per year, 3,356 or 4.1 percent were decided by a jury or bench trial. Medical malpractice claims comprised 8 percent of trial tort cases, while product liability cases, including asbestos suits, comprised 16 percent of trial tort cases. Of tort trial cases, 69 percent involved citizens from different States (diversity of citizenship), 18 percent involved a Federal question, and 13 percent involved the U.S. Government as a plaintiff (0.4 percent) or a defendant (12.3 percent). A jury decided 72 percent of tort cases brought to trial, including 86 percent of diversity of citizenship trial cases. Bench trials terminated 93 percent of trial cases in which the United States was a defendant. Overall, plaintiffs won in 43 percent of tort cases decided by trials, 32 percent of 283 medical malpractice cases and 27 percent of 527 product liability cases. Plaintiffs also won 7 of 10 airplane product liability cases and 4 of 7 asbestos product liability cases. Of 1,256 tort trial cases in which the plaintiff won monetary damages, the median award totaled $140,000. In 18 percent of cases, the award was $1 million or more and in 9 percent of cases $10 million or more. The mean case processing time for all tort trial cases from filing to termination was 21.8 months, and the median case processing time was 18.1 months. Within 2 years, 68 percent of all tort trial cases were terminated; 5 percent of cases lasted longer than 4 years. 9 tables

Date Created: December 17, 2009