Employment-related class action suits get a lot of attention and fanfare by the news media, but their numbers have plummeted in the past two decades, from 1,174 in 1976 to just 68 in 1996 (the latest year for which figures are available). The reason is that the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is short-staffed and is an underfunded agency, which needs to focus primary attention on high-profile cases, resulting in what once might have been considered a solid case that might have been resolved by the EEOC, but now being rejected, leaves the workers no choice but to file individual lawsuits or abandon their cases altogether.
In California, civil court between 1987 and 1994, a economist at Rand, found that 17% of the cases were dropped after an initial complaint, an additional 40% of class action lawsuits were settled before going to trial. A Philadelphia employment litigation lawyer, said most class action lawsuits are resolved or settled before they are filed in court.
There were 19 securities class action trials since 1996, but the numbers reported during the period during 2007 was at least 65 going to trial from 260 to 272 federal securities class action suits filed. This represents an increase of historical levels. The Securities Class Action Service (SCAS) report, list the the amount of settlements before going to trial from 2003 to 2006. The top ten firms in terms of number of settlements accounted for more than 60% of the securities class action settlements during this period.
Numerically, class actions make up a small portion of the average court’s docket. Of the approximately 280,000 civil lawsuits filed in all the federal district courts in the United States during 1997, only 1,500 or one-half of one percent were class actions.