Readers know that we have launched BirdDog Law, a website for Tennessee lawyers and paralegals that (a) hosts three of my books and makes them available by subscription on a monthly or annual basis; and (b) provides a large number of free resources to help lawyers more efficiently serve their clients.
BirdDog recently launched a new free product – 95 databases containing data about the court systems of each of Tennessee’s 95 counties. Each database includes information about court clerks, judges, filing fees, local rules, local forms, demographic information, the county’s history, and more. The databases also provide you access to information about the status of e-filing and on-line records in each county.
Click to see the Davidson County database.
We are already working to improve the 95-county database product. The first release included (a) court statistics for each county; (b) the number of tort trials, jury and non-jury, in each county; and (c) the total damages awarded in tort trial in each county. Information was limited to the fiscal year ending June 30, 2020 (the most recent year information is available).
Now, we are adding information on tort trial and damages information for the four prior fiscal years as well. Here is a sneak peak of the updated graphs for Davidson County (which as of this writing are not on the site).
This graph shows us that the percentage of tort cases resolved by way of a trial to a judge or jury in Davidson County dropped below 1% of all tort case dispositions in 2019-20, a significant drop from prior years. This number was likely impacted by Covid-19. Next year’s data will shed more light on the issue.
This chart tell us the number of jury and non-jury tort trial and the percentage of cases (combined jury and non-jury) in which damages are awarded. The fact that damages were awarded does not tell us the plaintiff “won” – we do not know whether the plaintiff was offered more money than the jury or judge ultimately awarded. Also, we do not know whether the trials in which damages were awarded were jury trials, non-jury trials, or some combination thereof. Unfortunately, the Administrative Office of the Courts does not have the clerks report that data.
This graph shows us the distribution of damage awards. Notice that except for last year well over 50% of all cases in which the plaintiff was awarded damages the amount awarded was less than $100,000. Once again, we do not know the pre-trial offers (or demands) so we cannot say whether any of the plaintiff judgments were “wins.” We can say that the data shows only 11 $1,000,000+ verdicts in Davidson County in the five-year period ending June 30, 2020.
We are gathering and presenting similar data for the last five fiscal years for every county in the state. We are starting with the larger counties but intend to do every one. Please know that over 30 percent of Tennessee counties have no tort trials in given year, so many counties will show no activity whatsoever. That said, we will gather and present what out there and make it available at no charge.
We hope our site can help you serve your clients.