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Contract Trials and Verdicts in Large Counties, 1996

ADVANCE FOR RELEASE AT 4:30 P.M. EDT                 BJS
SUNDAY, APRIL 2, 2000                       202/307-0784  
        
PLAINTIFFS WON 62 PERCENT OF THE CONTRACT TRIAL CASES IN
NATION'S 75 LARGEST COUNTIES DURING 1996               

     WASHINGTON, D.C.-- Plaintiffs won 62 percent
(3,021) of the estimated 4,850 contract cases decided by
a trial in state general jurisdiction courts in the
nation's 75 largest counties during 1996, the Justice
Department's Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) announced
today.  About half (51 percent) of the contract trials
involved failed agreements between buyers and sellers,
followed by trials involving fraud (14 percent),
employment discrimination or disputes (13 percent), and
disputes between landlords and tenants (10 percent).
     Plaintiffs were more likely to win in cases decided
by a judge in what is known as a "bench trial" (68
percent) than by a jury (56 percent) but won more money
in jury trials.  Half of the jury trial plaintiff winners
were awarded $80,000 or more compared to the $25,000 or
more awarded to half of the plaintiff winners in bench
trials.
     Six percent (189 cases) of the plaintiff winners
were awarded punitive damages totaling about $174
million, with half receiving $40,000 or more.
     Those involved in contract trials are individuals,
businesses, governments or hospitals, with the most
common type of contract trial involving an individual
plaintiff and a business defendant (34 percent of the
cases).  Non-individuals sued businesses in 26 percent of
all contract trials, while more than half (51 percent) of
business plaintiffs were seeking payment owed to them
(seller plaintiff cases). 
     In about 18 percent of all contract trials, an
individual sued another individual.  Individuals were
more successful in contract trials brought against other
individuals (winning 64 percent of the time) than they
were in trials brought against businesses (winning 55
percent  of the time). 
     The bulletin, "Contract Trials and Verdicts in
Large Counties, 1996" (NCJ-179451), was  written by BJS
statisticians Lea S. Gifford, Carol J. DeFrances and
Marika F.X. Litras.  Single copies may be obtained from
the BJS fax-on-demand system by dialing 301/519-5550,
listening to the complete menu and  selecting document
number 195.  Or call the BJS clearinghouse number: 1-800-
732-3277.  Fax orders for mail delivery to 410/792-4358. 
The BJS Internet site is:
          http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/
     Additional criminal justice materials can be
obtained from the Office of Justice Programs homepage at:
            http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov
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BJS0064  
After hours contact: Stu Smith at 301/983-9354
                                   
Date Created: May 27, 2009