The Impact of Coronavirus on State Court Filings

A review of nine state court case dockets reveal that the number of filings of new lawsuits were down 53% in April and 49% in May compared with the same months last year, according to data that was released by Lex Machina. In reviewing the types of cases that were filed, the analysis indicated that corporate litigation plaintiffs were “less affected” in pursuing litigation by the COVID-19 pandemic than individuals.

Courts that shut down all or most of their services during the pandemic saw surges in new cases that were filed when they re-opened, according to the analysis. In Sacramento, for example, the number of cases filed in May was 12% higher than the number of cases filed in the same month last year. That followed a 93% decrease in the number of new cases that were filed in April, compared with the same month last year.

An increase in debt collection cases in the Houston Metropolitan area was cited as the reason why the dockets in that city were expanding from 2018 to 2019, according to the report, before plummeting in April and May of this year.

In California, meanwhile, there was a meaningful drop in the number of limited jurisdiction cases — 63% lower in April and 77% lower in May than the same months last year — a drop to which Lex Machina attributed to fewer collection cases. There were 2,365 collection cases filed in April 2020, compared with 7,854 collection cases that were filed in April 2019.

Looking at the flipside of the equation — the number of individuals filing suits against companies in the credit and collection industry was higher in April than it was in March or in April of last year, according to data released by WebRecon.

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