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Lex Machina is excited to release its first ERISA Litigation Report. With over 86,000 ERISA cases in the Lex Machina database, the report highlights data-driven trends and insights to help practitioners quickly analyze and strategize in this particular area of the law. 

The report focuses on the three-year time period from January 1, 2016 to December 31, 2018 to showcase recent trends in U.S. District Court. Additionally, Lex Machina looks at overall ERISA data, but also breaks down many analytics into two case types: Claim Denial and Delinquent Contribution. These are distinct areas of ERISA that function quite differently, and the data reflects these differences.

The report covers the following analytics:

  • Case Filings
  • Case Timing to Key Milestones
  • Top Districts and Judges
  • Most Active Parties
  • Top Law Firms
  • Case Resolutions and Findings
  • Damages Awards

Highlights from the report:

  • From 2010 to 2018, ERISA case filings declined from nearly 9,000 cases to about 6,600 cases.
  • Delinquent Contribution case filings have seen a significant decline from nearly 4,400 cases in 2010 to over 1,900 cases in 2018. This decline is likely due to a decrease in pension-related litigation in the last decade.
  • The Northern District of Illinois has the most case filings by nearly 650 cases, likely due to its strong union presence and large population.
  • Judges in the District of South Carolina are the top four most active ERISA judges from 2016 through 2018.
  • Most Active Parties are affected by the case-type tag. The most active plaintiffs in Claim Denial cases were healthcare companies and defendants were insurance companies. In Delinquent Contribution cases, plaintiffs were mostly pension funds and defendants were construction companies as well as insurance companies.
  • In ERISA cases overall, 74% resolved with a likely settlement. ERISA litigation has a reputation that cases that tend to settle. Looking at the data, it appears that settlement is a far more popular resolution in Claim Denial cases (82%) than in Delinquent Contribution cases (60%).
  • Plan audit was the most awarded remedy in cases from 2016 through 2018 and over two-thirds of those awards were on default judgment.
  • Over the three-year period from 2016 to 2018, courts awarded over $1 billion in Approved Class Action Settlement damages. The next largest damages award type was ERISA Plan Benefits (over $670 million), followed by Liquidated Damages (over $80 million).
  • And much more

This report presents data from Lex Machina’s Legal Analytics platform. Using machine learning and technology-assisted attorney review, raw data is extracted from PACER (Public Access to Court Electronic Records), which contains documents from federal district court. The raw data is then cleaned, tagged, structured, and loaded into Lex Machina’s proprietary platform. This report is prepared by the Lex Machina Product Team using charts and graphs from the platform. Commentary is provided by Lex Machina’s legal experts.