The latest available data from the federal courts show that during June 2020 the government reported 58,664 new civil filings.
According to the case-by-case information
analyzed by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC), this number
is up 11.6% 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 2020 civil filings of this type are compared with those of the same period in
the previous year, their number was up (80.5%).
Civil filings for June 2020 are higher than they were for the same period five years ago.
Overall, the data show that civil filings of this type are up 99.0% from levels reported in June 2015.
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 June 2020 was for "Torts - Personal Injury - Product Liability", accounting for 63.9% of civil filings.
As shown in Figure 2, additional categories with substantial numbers of civil filings were "Prisoner Petitions " (10.3%) , "Civil Rights" (5.6%), "Contract" (4.2%), "Social Security" (3.9%).
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 June 2020 was under the classification "Diversity", accounting for 70.2% of civil filings.
As shown in Figure 2, additional categories with substantial numbers of civil filings were "Federal Question" (17.8%) , "U.S. Government Defendant" (8.7%), "U.S. Government Plaintiff" (0.3%).
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 June 2020
"Personal Injury- Product Liability" was the most frequent recorded nature of suit category.
"Personal Injury- Product Liability" was ranked 8th a year ago, while it was the 1st most frequently invoked five years ago.
Ranked 2nd in frequency was the nature of suit category "Civil Rights".
"Civil Rights" was ranked 2nd a year ago, while it was the 4th most frequently invoked five years ago.
Ranked 3rd was "Motions to Vacate Sentence".
Among these top nature of suit categories, the one showing the greatest
increase in civil filings — up 3591.6 percent — compared to one year ago was
"Personal Injury- Product Liability".
This was the same category that had the largest increase — 1282.6 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 8.2 percent — was
"Health Care / Pharmaceutical Personal Injury Product Liability".
This was the same statute that had the largest decrease — 30.8 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 June 2020 was 179.3 per every million persons in the United States.
One year ago the relative number of filings was 69.2.
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 Northern District of Florida — with 18,704.3 civil filings as compared with 179.3 civil filings per one million people in the United States — was the most active during June 2020.
The Northern District of Florida was ranked 4th a year ago.
The District of Washington, D.C. ranked 2nd.
The District of Washington, D.C. was ranked 1st a year ago, while it was ranked 2nd five years ago.
The Southern District of New York now ranks 3rd.
The Southern District of New York was ranked 5th a year ago, while it was ranked 4th five years ago.
Recent entries to the top 10 list were Southern District of Illinois (East St. Louis), Middle District of Louisiana (Baton Rouge) and Nevada, now ranked 9th, 10th and 8th. These districts ranked 13th, 14th and 15th one year ago and 15th, 14th and 13th five years ago.
The federal judicial district which showed the greatest growth in the rate of civil filings
compared to one year ago — 9139.9 percent — was Northern District of Florida.
This was the same district that had the largest increase — 22155 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 — 57.9 percent — was Eastern District of Louisiana.
This was the same district that had the largest decrease — 57.7 percent — when compared with five years ago.