Consumer Credit Civil Lawsuits Starting to Fall

Number Latest Month 723
Percent Change from previous month -8.8%
Percent Change from 1 year ago -12.0%
Percent Change from 5 years ago 163.1%

Table 1: Consumer Credit Civil Filings

The latest available data from the federal courts show that during September 2012 the government reported 723 new consumer credit civil filings. According to the case-by-case information analyzed by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC), this number is down 8.8 percent over the previous month, when the number of civil filings of this type totaled 793.

The comparisons of the number of civil filings for consumer credit-related suits are based on case-by-case court records which were compiled and analyzed by TRAC (see Table 1).

Consumer credit lawsuits are brought to enforce provisions in the Fair Debt Collection Act (15 U.S.C. 1692), the Fair Credit Reporting Act (15 U.S.C. 1681), Truth in Lending (15 U.S.C. 1640), the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (47 U.S.C. 227), and other consumer credit laws.

This year marks a drop in the volume of consumer credit suits after a period of steady increase since the start of the financial crisis. Consumer credit suits which had averaged 268 per month during FY 2007 tripled to 819 during FY 2011. When monthly 2012 civil filings of this type are compared with those of the same period in the previous year, however, their number was down (-12.0 percent). For FY 2012, these filings are down 5.6 percent from the level seen in FY 2011.

Bar and line plot of fymon

Figure 1: Consumer Credit Civil Filings over the last 5 years

The long term trend in consumer credit 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 consumer credit 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.

Top Ranked Judicial Districts

Relative to population, the volume of civil matters of this type filed in federal district courts during September 2012 was 2.4 per every million persons in the United States. One year ago the relative number of filings was 2.8. Understandably, there is great variation in the per capita number of consumer credit civil filings in each of the nation's ninety-four federal judicial districts.

Judicial District Percapita Count Rank 1yr ago 5yrs ago
Colorado 10.1 51 1 1 2
N. Y., W 7.2 20 2 2 30
Minnesota 6.3 33 3 3 17
W Virg, N 5.6 5 4 32 -
Ind, S 5.4 21 5 18 28
W Virg, S 5.4 5 6 13 4
Mich, E 4.9 32 7 8 25
N. J. 4.7 41 8 4 22
Mich, W 4.7 16 9 11 8
Fla, S 4.5 30 10 5 42

Table 2: Top 10 districts (per one million people)

  • The District of Colorado — with 10.1 civil filings as compared with 2.4 civil filings per one million people in the United States — was the most active through September 2012. The District of Colorado was ranked 1st a year ago, while it was ranked 2nd five years ago.

  • The Western District of New York ranked 2nd. The Western District of New York was ranked 2nd a year ago.

  • The District of Minnesota now ranks 3rd. The District of Minnesota was ranked 3rd a year ago.

The federal judicial district which showed the greatest growth in the rate of consumer credit civil filings compared to one year ago — 150 percent — was Northern District of West Virginia. Compared to five years ago, the district with the largest growth — 900 percent — was the Western District of New York.

In the last year, the judicial District Court recording the largest drop in the rate of consumer credit civil filings — 30.5 percent — was New Jersey.

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.

Report Generated: November 6, 2012
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Copyright 2012, TRAC Reports, Inc.