Tennessee’s personal injury and wrongful death jury trials and judgment amounts continue at historic lows.
In the fiscal year ending June 30, 2016, only 396 personal injury and wrongful death cases went to trial. Of those 396 trials, only 190 were jury trials – the rest (206) were non-jury trials. For the year earlier (2014-15) there were 367 trials, 183 of which were jury trials and the balance (187) were non-jury trials.
At first glance this shows that the number of jury trials actually increased in 2015-16 190 vs. 183), but it is important to note that the number of tort cases disposed of during 2015-16 actually went up over 10% (10,951 vs. 9695) so one would have expected an even larger increase in the number of jury trials. Only 3.5% of a case dispositions were resolved by a jury or non-jury trial – the other 96.5% of cases were settled or dismissed.
Total tort damages awarded as a result of trials for the year ending June 30, 2016 was $30,194,388, down from 46,901,449 a year earlier. There were only 31 judgments in excess of $100,000, and only 6 in excess of $1,000,000. In the prior year (2014-15) there were 21 judgments in excess of $100,000, 7 of which were over $1,000,000.
The four metropolitan areas (Davidson, Hamilton, Knox & Shelby counties) reported 245 cases proceeding to trial, representing 61.2% of cases proceeding to trial. Of the 245 cases proceeding to trial in the four metropolitan areas, received monetary awards totaling $22,758,225, which is an decrease of $20,239,664 from the previous year. The four metropolitan areas also account for 75.4% of all damage/tort and medical malpractice awards for the year.
Here is the number of jury trials in the the four counties with the largest population:
- Knox 27
- Hamilton 16
- Davidson 38
- Shelby 45
Knox and Hamilton counties did not have a single verdict of $1,000,000 or more. Davidson County had verdict of at least one million dollars. Shelby County had two such verdicts.
Health care liability filings deviated from recent trends and actually increased 391 in 2015-2016, up from 356 a year earlier. However, the 2015-16 Annual Report of the Tennessee Judiciary (the source of all of the 2015-16 information)
indicates 342 health care liability cases were concluded during the year, with trials in thirty of them. Total damages awarded in those thirty trials? A mere $625,000.