Tuesday, August 17, 2010

80% of Employers' Summary Judgment Motions Granted

I recently came across a law review article titled, The Trouble with Twombly: A Proposed Pleading Standard for Employment Discrimination Cases. The impact of Twombly on employment discrimination pleadings is a fascinating topic, but not the subject of this post (probably a future post though!). Instead, I would like to focus on some statistical analysis contained in the article.

The author, Joesph Seiner, obtained data from the Federal Judicial Center (FJC) on the success rates of employment discrimination plaintiffs faced with summary judgment motions filed by employers.  The data set consists of cases terminated in FY 2006 in which the employer filed a summary judgment motion. To make sure I'm not distorting his methodology, here's exactly how he described it:
The FJC’s search of employment discrimination cases terminated in the federal district courts during fiscal year 2006 where a defendant filed a motion for summary judgment that was decided by the district court revealed a total of 3983 summary judgment orders.
This yielded the following results:

Result of Motion  |  % of Total
Granted: 62.6%
Granted-in-Part: 18.2%
Denied: 19.2%

It's tough to know the impact of the Granted in Parts. They may result from employees "throwing in the kitchen sink" and may actually leave the Plaintiff's primary case intact. Also, the author notes that summary judgment motions are common but does not provide statistics on that issue. So the numbers don't really show how often employer's are winning cases through summary judgment motions.

Regardless, some interesting numbers.

Posted by Philip Miles, an employment lawyer with McQuaide Blasko in State College, Pennsylvania.