The latest available data from the federal courts show that during August 2019 the government reported 24,590 new civil filings.
According to the case-by-case information
analyzed by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC), this number
is down 2.5% over the previous month when the number of civil filings of this type totaled
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 2019 civil filings of this type are compared with those of the same period in
the previous year, their number was up (8.0%).
Civil filings for August 2019 are higher than they were for the same period five years ago.
Overall, the data show that civil filings of this type are up 5.9% from levels reported in August 2014.
Figure 1. Civil Filings Over the Last Five 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 during August 2019 was for "Prisoner Petitions", accounting for 18.5% of civil filings.
As shown in Figure 2, additional categories with substantial numbers of civil filings were "Civil Rights " (15.5%) , "Torts - Personal Injury - Product Liability" (15.3%), "Contract" (9.3%), "Torts - Personal Injury - Other" (8.5%).
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 during August 2019 was under the classification "Federal Question", accounting for 46.4% of civil filings.
As shown in Figure 2, additional categories with substantial numbers of civil filings were "Diversity" (31.8%) , "U.S. Government Defendant" (13.0%), "U.S. Government Plaintiff" (1.4%).
Figure 2. Civil Filings by General Types
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 August 2019
Table 2. Top District filed
Nature of Suit
1 yr ago
5 yrs ago
Health Care / Pharmaceutical Personal Injury Product Liability
"Health Care / Pharmaceutical Personal Injury Product Liability" was the most frequent recorded nature of suit category.
"Health Care / Pharmaceutical Personal Injury Product Liability" was ranked 1st a year ago.
Ranked 2nd in frequency was the nature of suit category "Personal Injury- Product Liability".
Ranked 3rd was "Civil Rights".
"Civil Rights" was ranked 2nd a year ago, while it was the 1st most frequently invoked five years ago.
Among these top nature of suit categories, the one showing the greatest
increase in civil filings — up 133.1 percent — compared to one year ago was
"Personal Injury- Product Liability".
This was the same category that had the largest increase — 149.4 percent — 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 23.4 percent — was
"Health Care / Pharmaceutical Personal Injury Product Liability".
This was the same statute that had the largest decrease — 6.4 percent — 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 August 2019 was 75.5 per every million persons in the United States.
One year ago the relative number of filings was 77.6.
Understandably, there is great variation in the per capita number of civil filings in
each of the nation's ninety-four federal judicial districts.
Table 3. Top Ten Districts (per one million people)
The District of Washington, D.C. — with 461.1 civil filings as compared with 75.5 civil filings per one million people in the United States — was the most active during August 2019.
The District of Washington, D.C. was ranked 2nd a year ago as well as five years ago.
The Northern District of Florida ranked 2nd.
The Northern District of Florida was ranked 3rd a year ago, while it was ranked 8th five years ago.
The Eastern District of Louisiana now ranks 3rd.
The Eastern District of Louisiana was ranked 1st a year ago, while it was ranked 6th five years ago.
Recent entries to the top 10 list were Northern District of California (San Francisco), Southern District of Mississippi (Jackson) and Southern District of Alabama (Mobile), now ranked 9th, 10th and 5th. These districts ranked 16th, 19th and 69th one year ago and 45th, 15th and 44th five years ago.
The federal judicial district which showed the greatest growth in the rate of civil filings
compared to one year ago — 322.0 percent — was Southern District of Alabama.
This was the same district that had the largest increase — 257.5 percent — when compared with five years ago.
In the last year, the judicial District Court recording the largest drop in the rate of civil filings — 54.8 percent — was Eastern District of Louisiana.
But over the past five years, Southern District of New York showed the largest drop — 17.8 percent.