For the sixth year in a row, in-house legal departments have increased their spending in defending class action lawsuits last year, according to results from a new survey. And the spending is expected to rise more this year, amid a wave of pandemic disputes and data breach litigation.

The 10th annual Class Action Survey by the Carlton Fields law firm estimates that U.S. companies spent a total of $2.9 billion in 2020 defending class action lawsuits, based on all costs associated with defending such litigation, including outside counsel fees and e-discovery. This is in contrast to what the law firm had projected for 2020, reporting last year that companies would likely spend about $2.73 billion on class action lawsuits.