Lex Machina is proud to release its 2021 Contracts Litigation Report, which examines contracts litigation trends in federal district court. This report focuses on the three-year period from 2018 to 2020 and surveys emerging trends in case filings (including franchise and negotiable instrument case filings), timing, damages, and the impact of COVID-19.

Key Trends and Highlights:

  • Since 2011, there has been a decrease in the number of contracts cases filed each year until 2018, when case filings began to increase slightly but steadily.
  • Franchise case filings fell sharply in 2020, as many hospitality businesses (hotels, restaurants, etc.) are commonly franchised and were especially vulnerable to the impacts of the pandemic.
  • The Southern District of New York had the most contracts cases filed between 2018 and 2020 with 2,400 cases. However, judges from the Central District of California district took up 13 out of 20 spots on the most active judges list.
  • The most active plaintiff was the Noco Company, an automotive batteries and accessories manufacturer who filed a total of 246 cases from 2018 to 2020.
  • The most active plaintiffs’ law firm was Kohrman Jackson & Krantz with 256 cases. The firm often represented Noco Company.
  • Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. was the most active defendant with 190 cases.
  • The most active defendants’ law firm in the three-year period from 2018 to 2020 was Greenberg Traurig with 300 cases in 50 districts. The firm was the fourth most active plaintiffs’ law firm.
  • In 2020, there were the fewest cases with damages awards since 2011, but the total amount of damages awarded that year ($4.6 billion) was the second highest of any year during this ten-year period. This was due to the $1.6 billion in damages awarded in Petroleos De Venezuela S.A. et al v. MUFG Union Bank, N.A. et al, which involved the contractual obligations of Venezuela’s state oil company.

View our infographic.

Legal Analytics is used for planning, forecasting, and litigation strategy. The metrics in this report may help readers examine who to pursue as clients, how long a matter may take, or when to settle. This research supplements traditional legal research and anecdotal data in order to gain a competitive edge in litigation.

Lex Machina hosted a webcast to discuss the report on September 2, 2021 with Case Collard (Partner at Dorsey & Whitney), Karen Chadwick (author of the report and Legal Data Expert at Lex Machina), and Neil Magenheim (Director of Client Relations at Lex Machina). View a recording of the webcast.

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