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Department of Justice study of state civil trials

In October of 2008, the Department of Justice released a study of 27,000 civil cases from 50 states.  It came to the following conclusions:

    1.  Plaintiffs won in 56 percent of all cases.

    2.  Plaintiffs were more likely to win before a judge (68 percent) than a jury (54 percent).

    3.  The median award for plaintiffs was $28,000.00.  Four percent of plaintiffs recovered more than a million dollars; 14 percent recovered more than $250,000.00.

    4.  Sixty-one percent of the trials involved "negligence" or tort claims.  Most commonly they arose from motor vehicle collisions.

    5.  Punitive damages were awarded in five percent of plaintiff cases, with the median award of punitive damages being $64,000.00.

    6.  There was a substantial drop in the number of civil trials, and in the average award, from 1992 to 2005.  In the nation's most populous 75 counties, the number of trials decreased by 72 percent and the median final award decreased by one-third.

    7.  The median size of product liability awards and medical malpractice awards did increase over this time period:  plaintiffs were less likely to get to trial, and less likely to win, but the cases that won were stronger and apparently justified a larger award.

Thompson O’Neil, P.C.
309 East Front Street
Traverse City, Michigan 49684
Toll Free: 1-800-678-1307
Fax: 231-929-7262