Kansas City Sees Surge in Jury Trials, Returning to Pre-Pandemic Levels

Kansas City, Missouri – The Kansas City area is experiencing a return to pre-pandemic trends when it comes to jury verdicts, according to the latest data released by the Greater Kansas City Jury Verdict Service. The number of jury trials has been steadily increasing since the COVID-19 pandemic, with 2023 seeing a 30% rise compared to the previous year. This upward trend suggests that the region is making progress in recovering from the effects of the pandemic.

One notable finding from the data is the increase in the average value of plaintiff-friendly jury verdicts in 2023, even after excluding outlier verdicts. This indicates that plaintiffs have been faring well in their cases, with Jackson County, Missouri emerging as the most plaintiff-friendly venue in the Kansas City area. This county showed a consistent pattern of favoring plaintiffs, aligning with the pre-pandemic trend.

In 2023, out of the total 217 verdicts reported, 48% resulted in some form of recovery for the plaintiffs. This means that defendants obtained a full verdict in only 52% of the cases. While this win percentage is similar to the previous year, it marks a departure from the three-year stretch between 2019 and 2021 when defense verdicts dominated the region. The shift toward plaintiff-friendly outcomes is seen as a return to the pre-pandemic trend, which saw an increase in plaintiff verdicts from 38% in 2014 to 48% in 2018.

Breaking down the data further, it is evident that auto-related claims stand out in terms of their favorable outcomes for plaintiffs. An impressive 78% of these claims resulted in some amount of recovery for the plaintiffs. In cases of wrongful death, plaintiffs were awarded compensation in all six verdicts, including three auto-related and three others. The average award amount in auto-related wrongful death cases reached a staggering $23,613,333.

The overall average value of plaintiff verdicts, excluding outliers, saw a significant increase in 2023. In the Kansas City area, the average plaintiff award for that year amounted to $20,117,952. This figure includes a $1.785 billion dollar verdict from the Western District of Missouri and three verdicts totaling $70 million from Platte County. When the outlier verdicts are excluded, the average jury award for 2023 was $1,113,929.47.

Jackson County, Missouri, continues to assert its reputation as the most plaintiff-friendly venue in the Greater Kansas City area. Out of the 84 claims tried by juries in this county, 55% favored the plaintiffs, with an average award value of $1,305,793. Additionally, Jackson County accounted for over a third of all million-dollar jury verdicts in the Greater Kansas City venues, with 13 such verdicts. More than half of the verdicts valued between $100,000 and $999,999 were also delivered in Jackson County.

The upward trajectory of jury verdicts in Kansas City, along with the shift towards more plaintiff-friendly outcomes, is an encouraging sign for individuals seeking justice through the legal system. The data suggests that the region is gradually returning to pre-pandemic levels and ensuring that plaintiffs receive fair compensation for their claims.