Lex Machina Releases 2021 Contracts Litigation Report

September 09, 2021

Contracts case filings over the last three years showed a slight but steady increase through the pandemic, while franchise case filings fell sharply and damages awarded continued to climb

Menlo Park, CA — Today, Lex Machina and LexisNexis release their Contracts Litigation Report, which covers contracts litigation trends in federal district court. It focuses on the three-year period of 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.

"Looking at the analytics on contracts litigation revealed some intriguing trends," said Karen Chadwick, Lex Machina's Contracts Legal Data Expert and author of the report.“ Despite the pandemic, contracts case filings generally remained robust through 2020. However, delving into the data revealed a decline in filings for certain subsets of contracts cases such as Franchise cases."

Findings from the report include:

  • 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.

Lex Machina’s reports and software enable practitioners to devise data-driven litigation strategies. The metrics in this report may help readers decide who to pursue as clients, whether to pursue a particular motion, or when to settle. This research supplements traditional legal research and anecdotal data for a competitive edge in litigation.

View an infographic representation of the report here.

Register here for a copy of the report: https://pages.lexmachina.com/2021-Contracts-Report_LP.html

Contracts Report Webcast

Lex Machina hosted a webcast to discuss the report on September 2, 2021 at noon ET/9am PT 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: https://pages.lexmachina.com/2021-Contracts-Report-Webcast_LP.html

About LexisNexis Legal & Professional

LexisNexis Legal & Professional is a leading global provider of legal, regulatory and business information and analytics that help customers increase productivity, improve decision-making and outcomes, and advance the rule of law around the world. As a digital pioneer, the company was the first to bring legal and business information online with its Lexis® and Nexis® services. LexisNexis Legal & Professional, which serves customers in more than 160 countries with 10,400 employees worldwide, is part of RELX, a global provider of information-based analytics and decision tools for professional and business customers.

About Lex Machina

Lex Machina fundamentally changes how companies and law firms compete in the business and practice of law. The company provides strategic insights on judges, lawyers, law firms, parties, and other critical information across 17 federal practice areas and a rapidly growing number of state courts. Lex Machina allows law firms and companies to predict the behaviors and outcomes that different legal strategies will produce, enabling them to win cases and close business.

Lex Machina was named “2021 Legal Technology Trailblazer” (National Law Journal Trailblazer Awards, 2021), Winner of the “Media Excellence” Award for Analytics/Big Data (13th Annual Media Excellence Award, 2021), “Best Decision Management Solution” (AI Breakthrough Awards, 2019), and “Disruptor of the Year” (Changing Lawyer Awards, 2019). Based in Silicon Valley, Lex Machina is part of LexisNexis, a leading global provider of legal, regulatory, and business information and analytics. For more information, please visit www.lexmachina.com.