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Former Guidelines for Assignment of Cases



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By notice dated February 23, 2004, the court informed the Bar that, beginning March 1, 2004, the transfer and preliminary review mechanisms of the Guidelines for Assignment of Cases to the Commercial Division would be suspended until further notice. This is to advise the Bar that this experimental suspension will come to an end as of the close of business on May 28, 2004. Beginning June 1, 2004, the full operation of the Guidelines as written will resume. The relevant back offices will once again conduct a preliminary review for new cases and cases will not be assigned to the Commercial Division where they fail to meet the monetary threshold set forth in the Guidelines. Cases that are determined by a Division Justice to be non-commercial in nature may be transferred to a non-Commercial Part. As indicated in the February 23 notice, the Division will study the effects of the suspension and, after input from the Bar, may make permanent adjustments to the Guidelines. Notice will be provided if any such revisions are made.

Dated: May 25, 2004

JOHN F. WERNER
CHIEF CLERK AND EXECUTIVE OFFICER

COURT NOTE

Effective March 1, 2004, and until further notice, the Commercial Division of Supreme Court, Civil Branch, NY County will suspend operation of the transfer and preliminary review mechanisms set out in the Guidelines for Assignment of Cases to the Commercial Division.  Cases that have been designated "Commercial" on the Request for Judicial Intervention will not be assigned to a General Part after preliminary review nor transferred out of the Division and reassigned for failure to meet a monetary threshold or because of the nature of the subjects at issue (except for matters that are manifestly not commercial in character, such as a dispute over the valuation of assets in a matrimonial proceeding).  The Division will study the effects of this suspension and will make such permanent adjustments to the Guidelines as may be advisable in light of the results, notice of which will promptly be provided to the Bar.

Dated:  February 23, 2004

JOHN F. WERNER
CHIEF CLERK AND EXECUTIVE OFFICER

Hon. Jacqueline W. Silbermann
Administrative Judge
Supreme Court, Civil Branch
New York County

Justices of the Commercial Division:

Justice Herman Cahn
Justice Helen E. Freedman
Justice Bernard J. Fried
Justice Ira Gammerman
Justice Richard B. Lowe Iii
Justice Karla Moskowitz
Justice Charles E. Ramos

 

In general, the Commercial Division entertains complex commercial and business disputes in which a party seeks compensatory damages totaling $ 125,000 or more (exclusive of interest, costs, and attorney's fees). Due to caseload considerations, the Justices of the Division are empowered to transfer out of the Division cases which, in their judgment, do not fall within this category notwithstanding that a party has described the case as "commercial" on the Request for Judicial Intervention. The principles set out below will guide the exercise of this authority. Parties should adhere to these principles when designating a case type on the RJI.

(A) The following will presumptively be transferred out of the Division even if the monetary threshold is met:

(1) Suits to collect professional fees;

(2) Cases seeking a declaratory judgment as to insurance coverage for a personal injury or property damage action;

(3) Landlord-tenant matters, uncomplicated Yellowstone applications and other real estate disputes;

(4) Proceedings to enforce a judgment regardless of the nature of the underlying case;

(5) First-party insurance claims and actions by insurers to collect premiums or rescind policies; and

(6) Attorney malpractice actions.

(B) Actions in which the principal claims involve the following will presumptively be retained in the Division provided that the monetary threshold is met:

(1) Breach of contract or fiduciary duty, fraud, misrepresentation, business tort (e.g., unfair competition), or statutory violation arising out of business dealings (e.g., sales of assets or securities, corporate structurings, partnership, shareholder, joint venture, and other business agreements, trade secrets and restrictive covenants);

(2) Transactions governed by the Uniform Commercial Code (exclusive of those concerning individual coop units);

(3) Complicated transactions involving commercial real property;

(4) Shareholder derivative actions and commercial class actions;

(5) Commercial bank transactions;

(6) Internal affairs of business organizations or liability to third parties of officials thereof;

(7) Malpractice by accountants or actuaries; and

(8) Complicated environmental insurance coverage litigation.

(C) (i) Attorneys who wish to file an RJI seeking assignment to the Commercial Division must, prior to purchase of the Request for Judicial Intervention and filing with any back office, present the RJI and initial papers to the appropriate back office for preliminary review, as follows. The papers to be filed with the RJI, including a request for a preliminary conference, must include or be accompanied by a copy of the pleadings (the complaint and other pleadings, if any, that have been served and filed as of that point). If attorneys do not submit a copy of the pleadings, processing will be delayed until the pleadings are submitted. If the RJI is accompanied by a motion on notice, the RJI and motion papers shall be submitted to the Motion Support Office (Room 119) for a preliminary review. In other instances, the RJI and accompanying papers shall be submitted to the Commercial Division Support Office for preliminary review. The appropriate Support Office will review the pleadings to determine the amount of damages claimed to be at issue in the case. If the case is alleged to involve compensatory damages of less than $ 125,000 (exclusive of interest, costs, and attorney's fees), the Support Office will make a notation that the matter shall be assigned at random to a non-Commercial Justice. If the case is alleged to involve compensatory damages of $ 125,000 or more (exclusive of interest, costs, and attorney's fees), a notation will be made that the case shall be assigned at random to a Division Justice. The attorney shall then pay for the RJI and file the papers with the appropriate office, which will assign the case in accordance with the aforesaid notation. Cases in which equitable relief only is sought or the amount of damages is not specified in the pleadings will be assigned to the Division if the RJI so requests subject to screening by the assigned Justice. If a party believes that the Support Office mistakenly directed assignment of a matter to a non-Division Justice, a request shall be made of that Justice for a transfer into the Division.

(ii) Notwithstanding that a case is assigned to a Commercial Division Justice after the preliminary review, the Justice may thereafter determine that the matter is, in fact, not appropriate for treatment in the Division, pursuant to the principles set forth in Paragraphs A and B above, and may direct that the case be transferred out of the Division. The determination by a Commercial Justice as to whether a case should be retained in the Division will be made as soon as a matter is assigned to that Justice. Retained cases will remain in the Division thereafter.

(D) Notwithstanding the foregoing, commercial cases in which compensatory damages of $ 25,000 or more are sought will not be transferred out of the Division if filed in accordance with the procedures governing the Division's Filing by Electronic Means program. For this purpose, "commercial cases" include commercial real property disputes and the types of matters identified in Paragraphs (A) 1-2 and 4-6 and (B) 1-8 (without regard to the monetary threshold referred to in the second line of these Guidelines).

(E) Special proceedings (including applications pursuant to CPLR 3102(c) and (e), to dissolve corporations, and relating to CPLR Article 75) and foreclosures are randomly assigned among all Justices in the Supreme Court, NY County. Even when parties believe that a special proceeding or foreclosure has a "commercial" character, the "special proceedings" or "foreclosure" portion of the RJI should be completed by the filing party, not the "commercial" section. However, prior to the actual assignment of the matter to a Justice, a party to a commercial special proceeding may apply to the Administrative Judge to override the computer and designate the matter as "commercial" for treatment in the Division if it raises issues of extraordinary complexity.

(F) An order of transfer issued by a Justice of the Division is an administrative matter. A party claiming to have been aggrieved by such an order may seek review by letter application (two pages maximum, with a copy to all parties) to the Administrative Judge. Any such application that is not made promptly after the issuance of the transfer order will be denied as untimely irrespective of its merits. The order of the Administrative Judge is final and subject to no further review or appeal.

(G) As to General cases not previously transferred out of the Division, counsel may apply for a transfer into the Commercial Division if the case is sufficiently complex a commercial matter to justify such treatment. Such an application shall be presented to the assigned Justice in the first instance by letter request (two pages maximum) copied to all parties or at a conference. The Administrative Judge must approve all transfers into the Commercial Division. A decision of the assigned Justice rejecting transfer may be reviewed upon expeditious application to the Administrative Judge. A request for approval or review of an adverse decision shall be made by letter to the Administrative Judge copied to counsel for all parties. A request for review of an adverse decision that is not made promptly after the issuance of the transfer order will be denied as untimely irrespective of its merits.

Effective Date: July 3, 2001

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