Numbers Don’t Lie: Tort Lawsuits on Decline

Lawsuit explosion? Not in Wisconsin, or even nationally when it comes to tort lawsuits. State court data backs this up.

The National Center for State Courts released its most recent data (2008) showing that tort case filings, including medical malpractice cases are on a steep decline while contract cases are on the rise.

Tort cases in 13 general jurisdiction courts decreased by 25 percent from 1999-2008, while contract cases increased by 63 percent.

According to the Director of State Courts in Wisconsin, from 2000 to 2009, the number of tort cases decreased from 7,813 to 6,717, down 14 percent.

In 2008, Wisconsin had 139 medical malpractice cases come in, which made up only 1.9 percent of the total tort caseload in the state. In 2009, there were 137 medical malpractice cases in Wisconsin.

University of Wisconsin Law School Professors Marc Galanter and Susan Steingass studied civil case filings in Wisconsin and found that “tort filings are decreasing relative to population and in absolute numbers.”

While tort cases continue to decline, contract cases continue to skyrocket and make up most of the civil caseloads according to the National Center for State Courts. The organization’s data shows that in 2008, contract and small claims cases made up 73 percent of civil cases in Wisconsin and six other states reported in the data. At the same time, tort cases made up less than 5 percent of civil caseloads in those states.

The numbers don’t lie: tort lawsuits are on the decline. There isn’t a tort litigation crisis in Wisconsin and the United States.

For information on Wisconsin court filings:

To view the Galanter & Steingass study, Civil Justice in Wisconsin: A Fact Book, visit,
The Wisconsin Association for Justice stands with consumers to promote a fair and effective justice system for every citizen, not just the privileged and wealthy.

For Immediate Release

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