The latest available data from the federal courts show that during May 2021 the government reported 24,168 new civil filings.
According to the case-by-case information
analyzed by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC), this number
is down 22.8% 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 2021 civil filings of this type are compared with those of the same period in
the previous year, their number was down (-30.2%).
Civil filings for May 2021 are higher than they were for the same period five years ago.
Overall, the data show that civil filings of this type are up 24.3% from levels reported in May 2016.
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 May 2021 was for "Torts - Personal Injury - Product Liability", accounting for 28.4% of civil filings.
As shown in Figure 2, additional categories with substantial numbers of civil filings were "Civil Rights " (14.9%) , "Prisoner Petitions" (14.2%), "Contract" (9.0%), "Torts - Personal Injury - Other" (5.6%).
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 May 2021 was under the classification "Diversity", accounting for 41.7% of civil filings.
As shown in Figure 2, additional categories with substantial numbers of civil filings were "Federal Question" (40.9%) , "U.S. Government Defendant" (11.1%), "U.S. Government Plaintiff" (0.7%).
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 May 2021
"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 "Health Care / Pharmaceutical Personal Injury Product Liability".
"Health Care / Pharmaceutical Personal Injury Product Liability" was ranked 2nd a year ago, while it was the 2nd most frequently invoked five years ago.
Ranked 3rd was "Civil Rights".
"Civil Rights" was ranked 3rd a year ago, while it was the 3rd most frequently invoked five years ago.
Among these top nature of suit categories, the one showing the greatest
increase in civil filings — up 79.6 percent — compared to one year ago was
"Amer w/Disabilities - Other".
This was the same category that had the largest increase — 301.0 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 84.8 percent — was
"Personal Injury- Product Liability".
This was the same statute that had the largest decrease — 31.0 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 May 2021 was 73.6 per every million persons in the United States.
One year ago the relative number of filings was 160.1.
Understandably, there is great variation in the per capita number of civil filings in
each of the nation's ninety-four federal judicial districts.
Table 3. Top Ten Districts (per one million people)
The Northern District of Florida — with 2,193.2 civil filings as compared with 73.6 civil filings per one million people in the United States — was the most active during May 2021.
The Northern District of Florida was ranked 1st a year 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 Southern District of New York now ranks 3rd.
The Southern District of New York was ranked 4th a year ago as well as five years ago.
Recent entries to the top 10 list were Nevada, Northern District of California (San Francisco) and Western District of Louisiana (Shreveport), now ranked 8th, 9th and 6th. These districts ranked 13th, 17th and 29th one year ago and 10th, 51st and 32nd five years ago.
The federal judicial district which showed the greatest growth in the rate of civil filings
compared to one year ago — 120.9 percent — was Western District of Louisiana.
Compared to five years ago, the district with the largest growth — 2389.5 percent — was
Northern District of Florida .
In the last year, the judicial District Court recording the largest drop in the rate of civil filings — 87.3 percent — was Northern District of Florida.
But over the past five years, Southern District of Florida showed the largest drop — 15.0 percent.