May 29, 2012, ERIE, PA — The 2011 Annual Report of the Erie County Court of Common Pleas has been completed and the news for Erie injury cases is not surprising. Civil trials in Erie, Pennsylvania continue to trend downward, as do filings.
The report is available on-line and can be viewed in its entirety at the Erie County government website. It documents that there were 2,388 civil lawsuits filed, exclusive of foreclosure lawsuits. This volume is slightly lower than the last three years but the difference does not appear to be statistically significant.
There were 83 civil cases that were identified as ready for trial in 2011 but only 20 of them were actually tried to verdict. Of the 20 that went to trial, 9 were tried to a jury and 11 were tried to a judge, i.e., non-jury. These statistics are consistent with those of the last three years although a downward trend is identifiable when comparing current Pennsylvania civil trial rates with those of the last six years.
Erie County medical malpractice case data is singled out in the report, as is data on Pennsylvania medical malpractice cases from all other counties. Erie County’s medical malpractice lawsuit numbers are down this year from the year prior but are generally consistent with the volume seen in prior years. Thirty seven malpractice cases were filed in 2011; 5 went to trial; three trials ended in a verdict for the defense; and 2 ended in a verdict for the plaintiff.
The Erie County medical malpractice trial data is consistent with the statewide numbers. In Pennsylvania, there were 1,528 new medical malpractice lawsuits filed in 2011; 110 went to trial; 78 trials ended with a verdict for the defendant; and 32 ended with a verdict for the plaintiff.
Generally, the numbers confirm what we have observed about Pennsylvania injury cases in prior entries. The vast majority of Pennsylvania injury lawsuits settle. Of all civil lawsuits filed, less than 1% go to trial. Pennsylvania medical malpractice cases go to trial far more often than do other civil lawsuits, but the percentage is still small, somewhere on the order of 7 or 8%, with doctors and hospitals routinely winning more trials than they lose.