Civil Filings for September 2013

Number Latest Month 22,702
Percent Change from previous month -2.1%
Percent Change from 1 year ago 10.6%
Percent Change from 5 years ago 13.3%

Table 1: Civil Filings

The latest available data from the federal courts show that during September 2013 the government reported 22,702 new civil filings. According to the case-by-case information analyzed by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC), this number is down 2.1% over the previous month when the number of civil filings of this type totaled 23,188.

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 2013 civil filings of this type are compared with those of the same period in the previous year, their number was up (10.6%). Civil filings for September 2013 are higher than they were for the same period five years ago. Overall, the data show that civil filings of this type are up 13.3% from levels reported in September 2008.

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 September 2013 was for "Prisoner Petitions", accounting for 22.0% of civil filings.

As shown in Figure 2, additional categories with substantial numbers of civil filings were "Torts - Personal Injury - Product Liability " (14.8%) , "Civil Rights" (12.9%), "Contract" (9.4%), "Social Security" (7.7%).

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 September 2013 was under the classification "Federal Question", accounting for 49.3% of civil filings.

As shown in Figure 2, additional categories with substantial numbers of civil filings were "Diversity" (27.3%) , "U.S. Government Defendant" (13.6%), "U.S. Government Plaintiff" (2.3%), "Local Question" (0.0%).

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 September 2013

Nature of Suit Count Rank 1 yr ago 5 yrs ago  
Personal Injury- Product Liability 2,389 1 1 1 More
General Prisoner Petitions 1,572 2 3 3 More
Civil Rights 1,352 3 4 5 More
Other Civil Rights 1,338 4 5 4 More
Prison Condition 1,263 5 15 11 More
Employment 1,057 6 6 6 More
SSID Title XVI 940 7 9 12 More
Other Contract 924 8 7 7 More
Health Care / Pharmaceutical Personal Injury Product Liability 868 9 20 - More
Insurance 745 10 11 8 More
DIWC/DIWW (405(g)) 745 10 13 15 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 1st most frequently invoked five years ago.

  • Ranked 2nd in frequency was the nature of suit category "General Prisoner Petitions". "General Prisoner Petitions" was ranked 3rd a year ago, while it was the 3rd most frequently invoked five years ago.

  • Ranked 3rd was "Civil Rights". "Civil Rights" was ranked 4th a year ago, while it was the 5th most frequently invoked five years ago.

Among these top nature of suit categories, the one showing the greatest increase in civil filings—up 111.9  percent—compared to one year ago was "Prison Condition". This was the same category that had the largest increase—89.4%—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 10.7  percent—was "Employment". This was the same statute that had the largest decrease—24.0%—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 September 2013 was 73.9 per every million persons in the United States. One year ago the relative number of filings was 72.8. 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 1,770.1 1,635 1 1 7 More
D. C. 316.8 190 2 3 4 More
Penn, E 208.3 1,191 3 2 3 More
Ill, S 197.8 252 4 5 38 More
N. Y., S 159.5 819 5 9 6 More
La, E 143.0 229 6 8 5 More
Delaware 124.3 110 7 6 8 More
Miss, S 117.2 216 8 18 2 More
Fla, S 113.3 756 9 10 9 More
Texas, E 109.8 388 10 16 37 More

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

  • The Southern District of West Virginia—with 1,770.1 civil filings as compared with 73.9 civil filings per one million people in the United States—was the most active through September 2013. 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 3rd a year ago, while it was ranked 4th five years ago.

  • The Eastern District of Pennsylvania now ranks 3rd. The Eastern District of Pennsylvania was ranked 2nd a year ago, while it was ranked 3rd five years ago.

Recent entries to the top 10 list were Eastern District of Texas (Tyler) and Southern District of Mississippi (Jackson), now ranked 10th and 8th. These districts ranked 16th and 18th one year ago and 37th and 2nd five years ago.

The federal judicial district which showed the greatest growth in the rate of civil filings compared to one year ago—59.0 percent—was Southern District of West Virginia. This was the same district that had the largest increase—1583.3%—when compared with five years ago.

In the last year, the judicial District Court recording the largest drop in the rate of civil filings—48.8 percent—was Eastern District of Pennsylvania. But over the past five years, Southern District of Mississippi showed the largest drop—74.0 percent.

Report Generated: October 24, 2013
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