cbaReport-July13 - page 10

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July 2013 CBA REPORT
feature article
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I
n 2007, the late Chief Justice Moyer
created the Supreme Court Task
Force on commercial dockets to
address concerns pertaining to keeping
businesses in Ohio and enticing new
ones to enter the market. It was the job
of the Task Force to create, implement
and evaluate a pilot project establishing
commercial dockets. The goals of the
commercial dockets are to efficiently
resolve commercial cases, use fewer court
resources, and enhance the administra-
tion of justice, thereby improving the
state’s business climate. While this pilot
project was open to certain additional
counties, the initial pilot commercial
dockets were established in Cuyahoga,
Franklin, Hamilton and Lucas counties.
In 2008, the Task Force proposed a
set of temporary rules of Superinten-
dence for Courts of Ohio that set forth
the framework for the commercial
dockets. By March 2009, the commercial
dockets were in operation in the test
counties.
In December 2011, with the benefit
of two years of operation, the Task Force
issued its final report and recommen-
dations based upon the pilot program.
Over the prior two years, the Task Force
learned that the biggest challenge to the
commercial docket was the burden the
docket placed on the commercial docket
judges. The report addressed that issue
and proposed changes to the temporary
rules to improve the commercial dockets.
More than five years after Chief
Justice Moyer conceived of the idea of a
commercial docket, Ohio is now ready
to implement the commercial dockets
permanently. On February 26, 2013, the
Supreme Court of Ohio adopted perma-
nent Rules for the commercial dockets
(Rule 49,
et seq.
of the Rules of Superin-
tendence for the Courts of Ohio), which
will go into effect on July 1, 2013.
What does this mean for a commer-
cial litigation practice? Practitioners need
to be aware of the commercial docket
rules and, in Hamilton County, the
changes to the temporary rules.
What courts are affected by the
Commercial Docket Rules?
Any court of common pleas that
has six or more general division judges
or that is located in a county having
a population of 300,000 or more may
establish and maintain a commercial
docket (although it is not required).
Butler, Cuyahoga, Franklin, Hamilton,
Lorain, Lucas, Montgomery, Stark and
Summit counties each have an estimated
population more than 300,000 according
to the most recent census data and/or six
or more common pleas judges. Therefore,
any of these counties may maintain their
current commercial docket or may estab-
lish a new commercial docket.
What types of cases are assigned
to the commercial docket?
The commercial dockets are pri-
marily directed at resolving litigation
involving business entities. As such, the
cases that will be assigned to the com-
mercial dockets involve disputes over
the formation, governance, dissolution
or liquidation of a business entity, rights
and obligations of business entities and
the individuals involved in the entities,
trade secrets, non-disclosure, non-com-
pete or employment agreements, contract
and business tort matters, among others.
The permanent rules specifically outline
the types of cases to be assigned to the
commercial dockets.
The permanent rules also lay out the
types of cases that are not eligible for
assignment to the commercial dockets.
The commercial dockets will not in-
clude any personal injury or wrongful
death matters, consumer claims, wage
disputes, safety disputes, worker’s or
unemployment compensation matters,
most employment law matters, eminent
domain cases, administrative appeals,
environmental claims arising from envi-
ronmental statutes and criminal matters,
among others.
How will the commercial dockets
make commercial litigation more
efficient?
Business lawyers often complain that
commercial litigation is highly com-
plex and excessively time consuming,
typically taking more than two years to
obtain finality in a case. The commer-
cial dockets address this issue in several
ways. First, the commercial dockets
require that specific commercial docket
judges hear commercial cases. Commer-
cial docket judges are specially trained in
commercial litigation and, thus, are pre-
pared to deal with the complexities and
unique issues arising from commercial
litigation. The permanent rules set forth
education requirements for commercial
docket judges. Commercial docket judges
Ohio Supreme Court Adopts Permanent
Commercial Docket Rules
By Christine M. Cooper
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