Civil Filings for January 2014

Number Latest Month 28,002
Percent Change from previous month 19.2%
Percent Change from 1 year ago 10.9%
Percent Change from 5 years ago 17.0%

Table 1: Civil Filings

The latest available data from the federal courts show that during January 2014 the government reported 28,002 new civil filings. According to the case-by-case information analyzed by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC), this number is up 19.2% over the previous month when the number of civil filings of this type totaled 23,483.

The comparisons of the number of civil filings are based on case-by-case court records which were compiled and analyzed by TRAC (see Table 1).

When monthly 2014 civil filings of this type are compared with those of the same period in the previous year, their number was up (10.9%). Civil filings for January 2014 are higher than they were for the same period five years ago. Overall, the data show that civil filings of this type are up 17.0% from levels reported in January 2009.

Bar and line plot of fymon

Figure 1: Civil Filings over the last 5 years

The long term trend in civil filings for these matters going back five years is shown more clearly in Figure 1. The vertical bars in Figure 1 represent the number of civil filings of this type recorded each month. The superimposed line on the bars plots the six-month moving average so that natural fluctuations are smoothed out. One-year and five-year change comparisons are based upon the moving averages.

Types of filings

Cases were classified by the federal courts into general types. The single largest number of civil filings of these matters through January 2014 was for "Torts - Personal Injury - Product Liability", accounting for 30.6% of civil filings.

As shown in Figure 2, additional categories with substantial numbers of civil filings were "Prisoner Petitions " (20.4%) , "Civil Rights" (9.6%), "Contract" (8.5%), "Labor" (5.4%).

Jurisdiction

Within limits set by Congress and the Constitution, the federal district courts have jurisdiction to hear cases falling under any one of several categories. The single largest number of civil filings of these matters through January 2014 was under the classification "Federal Question", accounting for 42.3% of civil filings.

As shown in Figure 2, additional categories with substantial numbers of civil filings were "Diversity" (41.0%) , "U.S. Government Defendant" (9.7%), "U.S. Government Plaintiff" (1.3%).

Pie chart of nosgrp

Figure 2: Civil filings by general types
Pie chart of jurisdiction

Figure 3: Jurisdiction
for civil filings

Rankings: Specific Nature of Suits

Court filings are also classified based upon the specific nature of the suit. Table 2 shows the top nature of suit categories recorded in the matters filed during January 2014

Nature of Suit Count Rank 1 yr ago 5 yrs ago  
Personal Injury- Product Liability 7,547 1 1 7 More
Prison Condition 1,960 2 10 11 More
Civil Rights 1,575 3 3 4 More
General Prisoner Petitions 1,561 4 2 3 More
Other Civil Rights 1,271 5 4 6 More
Insurance 1,078 6 11 1 More
Health Care / Pharmaceutical Personal Injury Product Liability 967 7 19 - More
Other Contract 864 8 6 5 More
Employment 838 9 5 8 More
Consumer Credit 763 10 7 13 More

Table 2: Top district filed

  • "Personal Injury- Product Liability" was the most frequent recorded nature of suit category. "Personal Injury- Product Liability" was ranked 1st a year ago, while it was the 7th most frequently invoked five years ago.

  • Ranked 2nd in frequency was the nature of suit category "Prison Condition". "Prison Condition" was ranked 10th a year ago.

  • Ranked 3rd was "Civil Rights". "Civil Rights" was ranked 3rd a year ago, while it was the 4th most frequently invoked five years ago.

Among these top nature of suit categories, the one showing the greatest increase in civil filings—up 170.0  percent—compared to one year ago was "Prison Condition". This was the same category that had the largest increase—655.5%—when compared with five years ago.

Again among the top ten nature of suit categories, the one showing the sharpest decline in civil filings compared to one year ago—down 18.8  percent—was "Employment". This was the same statute that had the largest decrease—65.7%—when compared with five years ago.

Top Ranked Judicial Districts

Relative to population, the volume of civil matters of this type filed in federal district courts during January 2014 was 89.2 per every million persons in the United States. One year ago the relative number of filings was 69.1. Understandably, there is great variation in the per capita number of civil filings in each of the nation's ninety-four federal judicial districts.

Judicial District Percapita Count Rank 1yr ago 5yrs ago  
W Virg, S 7,092.2 6,592 1 1 7 More
D. C. 257.8 163 2 2 3 More
Arizona 232.7 1,525 3 56 61 More
Ill, S 218.3 280 4 3 20 More
Penn, E 193.0 1,118 5 7 2 More
Tenn, M 151.2 351 6 70 38 More
Delaware 147.2 135 7 4 11 More
N. Y., S 142.0 732 8 5 4 More
Fla, S 123.5 856 9 9 9 More
La, E 123.4 201 10 6 1 More

Table 3: Top 10 districts (per one million people)

  • The Southern District of West Virginia—with 7,092.2 civil filings as compared with 89.2 civil filings per one million people in the United States—was the most active through January 2014. The Southern District of West Virginia was ranked 1st a year ago, while it was ranked 7th five years ago.

  • The District of Washington, D.C. ranked 2nd. The District of Washington, D.C. was ranked 2nd a year ago, while it was ranked 3rd five years ago.

  • The District of Arizona now ranks 3rd.

Recent entries to the top 10 list were Arizona and Middle District of Tennessee (Nashville), now ranked 3rd and 6th. These districts ranked 56th and 70th one year ago and 61st and 38th five years ago.

The federal judicial district which showed the greatest growth in the rate of civil filings compared to one year ago—385.7 percent—was Arizona. Compared to five years ago, the district with the largest growth—6653.7 percent—was Southern District of West Virginia .

In the last year, the judicial District Court recording the largest drop in the rate of civil filings—25.0 percent—was Delaware. But over the past five years, Eastern District of Louisiana showed the largest drop—92.6 percent.

Report Generated: February 21, 2014
TRAC Copyright
Copyright 2014, TRAC Reports, Inc.