Pop quiz time.
Over the last 18 years, has the number of claims filed at the Superior Court level in Connecticut has: a) Gone up; b) Stayed the same; c) Gone down
If you answered "a", congratulations. The number of cases filed has gone from 57,620 in 1992-93 to 78,275 in 2009-2010. Many people believe that we are now a litigious society in which anything and everything turns into a lawsuit.
But now for extra credit, do you know what the rise in the number of cases can be attributed to?
If you answered "foreclosure" cases and "collection" cases, kudos to you again.
In fact, the civil court statistics released by the judicial branch recently show that the number of foreclosure cases has doubled in the last 18 years (up to 26,728 cases in 2009-2010). And the number of collections cases is at its highest levels (up to 25,930 cases in 2009-2010).
But if take these cases out of the overall numbers because they are economically-driven, you come up with an amazing statistic: The overall number of civil cases filed has actually gone down over the last 18 years — from 26,725 to 25,617.
For cases dealing with employment law issues, that trend can also be seen in a big drop in the number of appeals of CHRO decisions, to the numbers of "tort" cases filed. Indeed, the number of miscellaneous tort cases filed in Connecticut is down nearly 25 percent over the last 18 years.
In short, the notion that we are awash in litigation in Connecticut or that litigation has increased over the last 18 years is not supported by the statistics. Indeed, these statistics are consistent with the numbers of cases filed at the CHRO as well.
For employers, this is important to keep in mind as you consider the risks that your actions may lead to lawsuits. A lawsuit may eventually be brought, but if you believe that we are more litigious now in Connecticut than we were 18 years ago, these statistics should challenge your beliefs.