Federal Motor Vehicle Product Liability Litigation Up 89%
The latest available data from the federal courts through June 2018 show that new federal motor vehicle product liability lawsuits have risen sharply. During four out of six of the past months, the number of new cases filed set new records. So far during the first nine months of FY 2018, there have been 570 new suits filed. If this filing pace continues, the projected number of filings will reach 760 during FY 2018. This filing pace is up 89 percent over that of last year. During all of FY 2017 only 403 such suits were filed. See Table 1.
The long-term trend in these civil filings going back to FY 2008 is shown more clearly in Figure 1. The vertical bars in Figure 1 represent the number of new motor vehicle product liability lawsuits filed each fiscal year. These comparisons of the number of civil filings for motor vehicle product liability-related suits are based on case-by-case court records which were compiled and analyzed by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) at Syracuse University.
As shown in Figure 1, motor vehicle product liability litigation previously peaked during FY 2010. That year saw 508 cases filed. After 2010, lawsuits fell until they reached a low point during FY 2013 when only 238 suits were filed.
Top Ranked Judicial Districts
Activity in three out of the 94 federal judicial districts account for most of this jump. The largest number of lawsuits this year were filed in the Southern District of New York (Manhattan). Already during FY 2018 a total of 190 new cases have been filed - over twenty times the national average on a per capita basis. This compares with 34 cases filed in New York South during all of FY 2017.
The Southern District of Florida (Miami) and the Central District of California (Los Angeles) also experienced sharp jumps this year. Remaining districts either saw little change or even experienced declines.
Table 2 contains comprehensive figures of motor vehicle product liability lawsuits filed, along with per capita rates, for each federal judicial district during FY 2017 as compared with the first nine months of FY 2018.
Each month, TRAC offers a free report focused on one area of civil litigation in the U.S. district courts. In addition, subscribers to the TRACFed data service can generate custom reports by district, office, nature of suit or federal jurisdiction via the TRAC Data Interpreter.