The Tennessee Administrative Office of the Courts has released the 2008-09 Annual Report of the Tennessee Judiciary. The report includes information about court filings and dispositions for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2009.
Here is some of the important data included in the Report:
1. There were only 10,659 personal injury and wrongful death cases filed in 2008-09. The backlog of cases is neither increasing or decreasing – case dispositions were about the same as filings at 10,768.
2. Medical malpractice filings were down about 20% from a year earlier. There were only 426 medical malpractice cases filed for the year and there were 479 medical malpractice cases that were disposed of in the same period. In the 2007-08 fiscal year, there were 537 cases filed. In the 2006-07 fiscal year there were 584 cases filed. In the 2005-06 fiscal year there were 638 cases filed.
3. Of the 11,247 case dispositions during the year, only 608 (5.4 percent) proceeded to trial. Jury trials accounted for 260 (42.8 percent) and non-jury trials accounted for 348 (57.2 percent) cases that proceeded to trial.
4. The four metropolitan areas (Davidson, Hamilton, Knox and Shelby Counties) reported 199 cases proceeding to trial, representing 32.7 percent of cases proceeding to trial. Shelby County had only 48 jury trials in personal injury, wrongful death and medical malpractice cases during the year. Davidson County had 65, Hamilton had 51, and Knox had 59.
5. The number of trials is up from 2007-08 and 2006-07 but down from prior years. For example, there were 763 jury and non-jury trials in personal injury, wrongful death and medical malpractice cases in 2002-03.
6. There were 26 medical malpractice cases tried during the fiscal year. Total monetary awards were $16,419,443. The report does not indicate how many plaintiff verdicts or defense verdicts. In 2007-08 there were 20 medical malpractice trials. In 2006-07 there were 15 cases tried and the total monetary damages were $55, 167. In 2005-06 there were 13 trials (and no damages awarded in any of them).
7. Of the 608 cases statewide proceeding to trial in fiscal year 2008-2009, 281 received monetary awards. That is a win-rate for plaintiffs of only 46.2%. Of course, that assumes that winning plaintiffs were offered no money before trial. If pre-trial offers are considered, the "win" rate is presumably less (because "winning" a trial but receiving less than the amount offered by the defendant is not much of a "win").
8. The statewide total awarded is $83,618,431, which is an increase of $25,588,518 from the previous fiscal year. This number is greatly skewed by a judgment for over $19 million out of Putnam County is a paralysis case. This judgment is almost certainly not collectible.
9. There were 15 judgments (jury and non-jury) of $1,000,000 and more and only 36 between $100,000 and $999,999. Davidson County had 3 judgments over $1,000,000. Shelby and Hamilton each had one judgment of $1,000,000 or more. Knox had none.