Yesterday we discussed the number of tort filings and dispositions in tort and health care liability cases in Tennessee and documented the number of trials in those cases. Today we look at damage awards.
In the fiscal year ending June 20, 2018, damages were awarded to the plaintiff in 98 of the 337 tort cases that went to trial. (Unfortunately, the data does not tell us whether the damages were awarded in the jury or non-jury trials.)
In fiscal 2016-17, damages were awarded to the plaintiff in 120 of 367 trials. In fiscal 2008-09, damages were awarded to the plaintiff in 281 of the 608 trials.
In fiscal 2017-18, the total damages awarded in the 98 tort cases where damages were awarded was $32,360,132. Damages of less than $100,000 were awarded in 80% of the cases (79 out of the 98 cases where the plaintiff won any damages). Damages of between $100,000 and $999,999 were awarded in 16 cases. Damages of $1,000,000 or more were awarded in only 3 cases.
One need not hold a degree in advanced mathematics to determine that a couple of the $1,000,000+ awards greatly impacted the total awards, but no information of specific verdicts was released with this data.
In the health care liability area there were only two cases in the entire state where a plaintiff was awarded damages, and those damages totalled $968,578. (There were 18 HCLA trials, 13 to a jury and 5 to a judge.)
What about ten years earlier – in fiscal 2008-09? The total damages awarded to plaintiffs at trial was $83,618,431, with 15 verdicts over $1,000,000.
One last point. A jury award to a plaintiff is not necessarily a win. A verdict less than the offer is appropriately considered a loss by most plaintiff’s lawyers and a win by most defense lawyers. We have no idea what offers, if any, were made in any case in which a plaintiff received money. Thus, it would be incorrect to conclude that the plaintiff “won” each case in which the plaintiff received money.
More to come.