U.S. Chamber Research Shows Nuclear Verdicts Growing in Size and Frequency

June 10, 2024

Massive jury awards of $10 million or more continue to increase in size and frequency, according to a study by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Institute for Legal Reform. Between 2013 and 2022, the median nuclear verdict was $21 million, with the median nuclear verdict in product liability cases peaking at $36 million in 2022, according to the study.

The study, Nuclear Verdicts: An Update on Trends, Causes, and Solutions, analyzes more than 1,200 verdicts between 2013 and 2022. It looks at the trends, drivers, and types of cases leading to nuclear verdicts.

Other findings include:

  • Product liability cases ($25 million) and auto accidents ($21 million) have some of the highest median verdicts.
  • Juries in state courts, rather than federal courts, produced most nuclear verdicts.
  • California, Georgia, Florida, Illinois, New York, and Texas produced around 56 percent of the nuclear verdicts across the country.
  • Third party litigation funding, lawsuit advertising, and plaintiffs’ lawyers’ courtroom tactics fuel the size and frequency of nuclear verdicts.

The study outlines a series of suggested reforms the group believes that could reduce nuclear verdicts: Requiring disclosure of third-party litigation funding; reining in misleading lawsuit ads; and prohibiting plaintiffs’ lawyer anchoring tactics.