As I mentioned in three previous posts, Shannon Ragland of the Tennessee Jury Verdict Reporter has graciously agreed to permit me to share some of the information he has gathered concerning jury trials in Tennessee.
This multi-part series will discuss some of the data contained in Shannon’s 359-page 2009 report. You can buy the report yourself for $175.00. It is well worth the money. Click here to buy the report. The same link will permit you to order Shannon’s monthly newsletter.
Shannon’s 2009 report gathers data about the most common retail defendants in premises cases, employment discrimination cases, dog bite cases, loss of consortium awards, soft tissue cases and more. I think I have gone about far enough in giving away the data he collected and sells (at a reasonable price, I might add) but I will go a little bit further and talk about one more subject.
There were a total of 252 jury verdicts in Tennessee in 2009, down from 426 in 2005. Think about that. There are well over 1000 lawyers who hold themselves out to the public as lawyers who do plaintiff’s work. I have no idea how many "defense" lawyers there are, but I would guess that there are fewer defense lawyers than plaintiff’s lawyers, but would go so far to suggest that many of those defense lawyers would accept a plaintiff’s case if they could get one (and there was no conflict of interest).
So, using round, numbers, let’s say that there are 1700 lawyers who do personal injury work, plaintiffs or defense. And there were only 252 jury verdicts.
And that is a little misleading, too, for several reasons. Shannon’s research includes employment cases and contract and commercial tort verdicts. Thus, we need to add a bunch of other lawyers to the total who do that kind of work.
My point, of course, is that jury trials are fading away. There are lots of reasons for this, some good, some bad, but no one can deny the fact that they are vanishing from our civil justice system.
So who is trying cases? Shannon’s report gathers that, too, and once again that information is informative but must be read in context. For example, the firm with the most trials in Tennessee was the Leitner Williams firm, a statewide law firm. They had 12 jury trials, and one lawyer in that firm, James Catalano, had five of them. But they also have about 100 lawyers. Now, to be sure, some of those lawyers do worker’s compensation work and others do other types of work where they would not be trying jury cases, but you get my point.
Thanks, Shannon, for allowing me to share some of this data with the readers of this blog.