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DOJ report shows decline in federal tort lawsuits

[JURIST] There has been an almost 80 percent decrease [DOJ press release] in the number of federal tort trials from 1985 to 2003, the US Department of Justice [official website] said in a report released Wednesday. According to Federal Tort Trials and Verdicts, 2002-03 [report abstract; PDF full text], the decrease can be attributed to the growing use of alternative dispute resolution and the increased complexity and costs of trial. In addition, DOJ research showed that 98 percent of tort cases were settled without trial. The study contrasts with political complaints about lawsuits. In February, President Bush signed the Class Action Fairness Act [JURIST report], which sends large class action suits to federal courts rather than state courts, saying [White House press release] he wanted to "[end] the lawsuit culture in our country." A bill due for a vote next month in the Senate would end asbestos lawsuits [JURIST report] and would instead create a compensation fund. Bloomberg News has more.

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