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Conferences and Case Management


Concerning: Differentiated Case Management (“DCM”) / Preliminary and Other Conferences / Automated City Case and Motor Vehicle DCM

A. DIFFERENTIATED CASE MANAGEMENT

Under the concept of Differentiated Case Management ("DCM"), cases are assigned to a pre-note-of-issue "track" (“standard,” “expedited” or “complex”) upon filing of the RJI, which represents a time frame for completion of pre-note-of-issue proceedings. See Uniform Rule 202.19. The DCM track deadlines are commonly referred to as “pre-note standards and goals” for purposes of internal monitoring of case activity. DCM is applicable to all, or virtually all, types of cases in New York County Supreme Court.

Prior to 2011, the filer of an RJI was required also to designate on the RJI a Differentiated Case Management ("DCM") track, which represents a time frame for completion of pre-note-of-issue proceedings ("expedite", "standard" or "complex") (Rule 202.19 of the Uniform Rules for the Trial Courts). Such a designation is no longer called for by the RJI form. Upon the filing of the RJI, however, each case will be assigned to a DCM track. The assignment will be made by the clerk in accordance with a protocol issued by the court, as follows.

The main tracks are: eight months - expedited; 12 months - standard; and 15 months - complex. The following cases will be assigned to the following tracks by the Clerk at the time of filing of the RJI and the assignment of a case to a Justice:

Commercial (Commercial Division and non-Division) - - Complex
Medical/Dental/Podiatric Malpractice - - Complex
Mass Torts - - Ultra-Complex (20 months)
Tax Certiorari - - Special time frame (48 months)
Matrimonial - - Special time frame (six months)
Motor Vehicle - - Expedited
All Other Cases - - Standard

Pursuant to Uniform Rule 202.19 (b) (1), a preliminary conference must be held within 45 days after the RJI is filed. The Rule is interpreted to mean that if the RJI accompanies a non-discovery motion, the conference shall be held within 45 days after the decision on the motion, assuming that the decision does not dispose of the case. If the RJI accompanies a disclosure motion, the preliminary conference shall be held within 45 days. See Uniform Rule 202.8 (f). At the preliminary conference, the court will consider requests by a party to modify the DCM track assigned upon filing of the RJI.

The time within which discovery must be completed according to the Rule, the pre-note phase of the case, varies depending on the track to which a case is assigned. Uniform Rule 202.19. The main deadlines are:

Expedited - Eight months
Standard - 12 months
Complex - 15 months

The wording of Rule 202.19 (b) (2) appears to indicate otherwise, but in fact, as mentioned, the case is assigned to a DCM track when the RJI is filed and the allotted DCM time begins to run, not from the preliminary conference, but from filing of the RJI. As discussed further below, the DCM deadlines applicable to the case as calculated from RJI filing are incorporated into the case history as reflected in the court’s case history application, the Civil Case Information System. This means, among other things, that the DCM time is running while a non-discovery motion is being made and decided if the RJI is filed with it. Indeed, the time will be running even if the motion is one that causes discovery to be stayed. That is, the time period during which discovery is to take place begins even if the nature of the motion filed with the RJI brings about, by operation of the CPLR (Rule 3214 (b)), a prohibition upon discovery (unless lifted by the court). There is no mechanism to toll or readjust the DCM clock in CCIS within any of the tracks.

Since the DCM time frames are calculated from RJI, the court must be attentive to the early commencement of the discovery process even if the case is one in which a preliminary conference will not be held within 45 days due to the filing of a non-discovery motion at the outset of the case.

A compliance conference must be held no later than 60 days before the date fixed for completion of discovery. Rule 202.19 (b) (3). At this conference, according to the Rule, the court will, among other things, set a date for the filing of the note of issue. In fact, here too there is an anomaly. When the RJI is filed, the court’s case history application, CCIS, will assign, based upon the date the RJI was filed and the applicable DCM track, a date by which the note of issue must be filed and that deadline will be recorded in CCIS. If, for instance, the case is a standard one, the note of issue must be filed by a date that is exactly 12 months from the filing of the RJI. The CCIS note-of-issue deadline is, though, a standardized goal; the actual date governing counsel is the one fixed by the court in the preliminary conference or other order.

The DCM Rule provides that, within 180 days from filing of the note of issue, a pretrial conference must be held at which the court will fix a date for commencement of trial, which is to be no later than eight weeks after the conference date. Rule 202.19 (c).

Despite the immediately preceding paragraph, the standard and goal for cases post-note is 15 months, that is, a case in post-note status should be disposed of within that period (in matrimonial cases it is six months). The court system also keeps data on the overall standards and goals (pre-note and post-note combined).

As with the pre-note DCM deadline (the deadline for filing of the note of issue), the applicable standards and goals for the post-note period and for pre-note and post-note combined are recorded in the CCIS application for each case depending upon the DCM track to which the case is assigned and the date on which the RJI was filed. When the RJI is filed, as mentioned above, CCIS will calculate for the case the date by which the note of issue must be filed figuring from the RJI date according to the DCM standard. At the same time, CCIS will calculate the date by which the note of issue should be disposed of, i.e., 15 months from the date fixed for filing of the note of issue. The computer will also keep track of the overall standard and goal, the date by which the note of issue should have been disposed of calculated from the filing of the RJI, which adds the pre-note period to 15 months for the post-note period to get an overall standard. A case that is out of compliance with either the pre-note standard or the post-note standard may nevertheless be timely overall if proceedings in the other period are completed earlier than required (e.g., discovery takes 14 months in a standard case, but the case is tried within eight months from filing of the note of issue).

This has been alluded to above, but since there is a risk of confusion, it is worth a clear statement. Attorneys who consult CCIS or the court's Supreme Court Records On-Line Library ("Scroll") on this website, which reports CCIS data, or who receive case information, which is CCIS-based, from the court system's free case tracking service, e-Track, or private attorneys' service companies may note or receive information reflecting these DCM deadlines. The computer will show, for instance, for a standard case a note-of-issue deadline of 12 months running from the filing of the RJI, a deadline for disposition of the case of 15 months running from the note-of-issue deadline date, and an overall deadline for the case of 27 months running from the filing of the RJI. Counsel may receive notice from an attorneys’ service company reporting a date by which the note of issue is to be filed as shown in CCIS. Rule 202.19 (b) (2) provides that the time frames set forth in the Rule "must be complied with unless otherwise shortened or extended by the court depending upon the circumstances of the case." Therefore, the actual date by which a note of issue must be filed in any particular case or the trial date are the dates directed by the Justice assigned in an order. The DCM deadlines are goals to promote, and standards of measurement to evaluate, the timeliness of case processing. Information obtained from CCIS, or received from Scroll, e-Track, or a private service company that is derived from CCIS will be standardized deadlines based upon the DCM tracks and the post-note standard and goal and do not supercede the specific dates set by the court in its orders. Counsel should not be misled by the report of the service company calculated on the basis of standardized deadlines.

In City cases, a unique set of DCM procedures are applied. See below.

Various pre-note and trial procedures are set forth in the Uniform Rules of the Justices and, for Commercial Division cases, the Uniform Rules of the Commercial Division (Uniform Rule 202.70) and the Part Practices of the Division Justices.

B. CONFERENCES

1. Preliminary Conferences

Preliminary conferences sought by parties pursuant to Rule 202.12 of the Uniform Rules for the Trial Courts are scheduled upon filing with the General Clerk's Office (Room 119) of a request for a preliminary conference with proof of service. If the case has not yet been assigned to a Justice, the party must also submit, in a paper case, an original and one copy of an RJI (UCS 840, revised 2012; see http://www.nycourts.gov/forms/rji/index.shtml) and RJI Addendum, if required, with proof of service and proof of purchase of the index number for the main action, if applicable, and of payment of filing fees for all third-party actions (Uniform Rule 202.6 (c)). In an e-filed case, the request and RJI and Addendum, if required, shall be filed with NYSCEF as provided therein and the RJI fee paid via NYSCEF.

If the filing party wishes to have an unassigned case assigned to the Commercial Division, the preliminary conference request and RJI, marked to reflect a Commercial assignment, must be filed with the Commercial Division Support Office (Room 119 A) through NYSCEF and must be accompanied by a Commercial Division RJI Addendum (UCS 840C) in support of the requested assignment (Uniform Rule 202.70 (d)), which must show that the monetary threshold ($ 500,000) is met or that an exception thereto applies.

For more information on the filing of the RJI, see RJIs and Assignments.

The preliminary conference, which, as noted, is to be held within 45 days of filing of the RJI, shall take place at the Justice's regularly scheduled conference time, which can be found in the Uniform Rules of the Justices. To receive notice of the date and time scheduled for the preliminary conference, counsel should sign up for, and enter the case in, the court system's case tracking program, e-Track. This service, which is free of charge, will provide prompt e-mail notification not only of the scheduling of this conference, but of all other developments in the case that are recorded in CCIS. This service can accommodate, and will provide notification with regard to, all of an attorney's or firm's cases pending in this court. E-Track also can provide to counsel by e-mail reminder notices of future scheduled appearances.

The Scroll application on this website also contains information on future appearances in this court, as do various private attorneys' service and information programs.

For preliminary conference forms for different types of cases see Preliminary Conference Forms.

If counsel submit, prior to the scheduled conference date, a completed preliminary conference stipulation and order form, which can be done via NYSCEF in an e-filed case, and if the court finds no problems with the completed form, counsel need not appear and the court will remove the case from the conference calendar and make an entry in the court computer or mark the calendar with the future appearance date stipulated in the form. Uniform Rule 202.12 (b). If the stipulation and order form is not submitted, the preliminary conference shall take place as scheduled.

At a preliminary conference the court will, at the request of a party or on its own, confirm or modify the DCM track to which the case was assigned when the RJI was filed, and will establish a schedule for discovery and other pre-trial proceedings within the applicable DCM deadline. If the track assignment is to be modified, the clerk will record the change in CCIS. The court will also address, to the extent appropriate, limitation of issues, addition of parties, and settlement. Uniform Rule 202.12 (c). Failure to comply with the terms of a preliminary conference order, and making frivolous motions, shall, in the discretion of the court, result in the imposition of costs or other sanctions on the offending party. Uniform Rule 202.12 (f). Particular attention is drawn to deadlines for adding parties, depositions, completing all discovery, and filing a note of issue, as these dates are important to efficient case management.

The plaintiff must file a Notice of Medical, Dental or Podiatric Malpractice Action in cases of those types within 60 days of joinder of issue or after the time for a defaulting party to appear has expired. The Notice must be accompanied by an RJI if the case is unassigned. CPLR 3406; Rule 202.56 (a). The proposed Notice and RJI must be submitted to the General Clerk's Office via NYSCEF or, in a paper case, in hard copy for approval (after which the RJI fee is paid in Room 160). The assigned Justice shall conduct a preliminary conference as soon as practicable after the filing of the Notice and shall schedule disclosure proceedings so as to expedite a final disposition of the matter. Rule 202.56 (b).

2. Other Conferences

The preliminary conference order will normally contain a date for a compliance conference; as pointed out earlier, Rule 202.19 (b) (3) requires that a compliance conference be held no later than 60 days before the date set for completion of discovery. The PC order may also contain a date by which a note of issue must be filed. Compliance and pretrial conferences may also be fixed by the Justice in a compliance conference order or in a decision on a motion.

Notifications of these post-PC conferences are not sent by the court by mail. Since these dates are fixed in orders or decisions of the court, counsel will be aware of them immediately or promptly after they are set. In addition, attorneys who use e-Track will obtain notification by e-mail when such a date is recorded in the court’s CCIS computer and whenever a scheduled such date is adjourned. E-Track can also transmit e-mail reminders prior to scheduled appearances. Scroll will show the dates set for scheduled conferences.

3. Status Conferences

The court may, from time to time, schedule status conferences in the Part. The court, at the request of a Justice, will mail notices to the attorneys in each of the cases in an inventory that have been selected to undergo this procedure. These notices announce that counsel must appear for the conference on a given date pursuant to a directive of the presiding Justice. Failure to respond will result in appropriate judicial action (not, however, including a markoff pursuant to CPLR 3404; see Johnson v. Sam Minskoff & Sons, 287 A.D.2d 233, 735 N.Y.S. 2d 503 (lst Dept. 2001)( holding that CPLR 3404 does not apply to pre-note cases)). When counsel appear, the Justice will make whatever order is required to insure future progress in the case. If the case has been settled or otherwise disposed of, the notice from the court will provide counsel with an opportunity to inform the court of this development.

4. Adjournments

Conferences may be adjourned where permitted by the assigned Justice. See the Uniform Rules of the Justices on this website, cited above.

C. CITY CASE AUTOMATED DIFFERENTIATED CASE MANAGEMENT

1. City DCM - Overview

The court operates an automated Differentiated Case Management Program for tort cases in the City Parts, i.e., those in which the City of New York is a party and in which the City is represented by the Tort Division of the Corporation Counsel’s Office. Not included in this Program are special proceedings and City contract, medical malpractice, and lead paint cases. The aims of the Program are to expedite cases, minimize litigation expense, conserve the time of counsel, promote efficiency, and permit the City Justices to concentrate the bulk of their time on the resolution of substantive issues and trial of City cases.

2. Setting a Disclosure Schedule in City DCM Cases

Upon the filing of a request for judicial intervention in a City DCM case, the following procedures will be utilized to schedule discovery. If the RJI is filed with a non-discovery motion, this process will be followed after disposition of the motion, assuming that the decision does not dispose of the case. If the RJI is filed with a discovery motion or a request for a preliminary conference, the court, instead of conducting a preliminary conference in person in court or deciding the motion, will issue a Case Scheduling Order.

As was mentioned earlier, City cases are presumed to be standard cases under the DCM regime (Uniform Rule 202.19), meaning that discovery is to be completed within 12 months from filing of the RJI. Where the RJI is accompanied by a substantive motion, 12 months will be allowed for discovery commencing from the time the motion is resolved, if the case remains active after the decision, although technically, as explained earlier, the DCM period will begin to run from the filing of the RJI. The standard-form Order will contain provisions for items of discovery generally necessary in the major varieties of City case. Deadlines for the completion of the pertinent items of discovery within the overall 12-month time frame will be set forth, as will a compliance conference date.

The Order will include an EBT date furnished by the City. Since the City will know the type of case involved at this early point and can take that into account when determining an appropriate EBT date, the expectation of the court is that the date is more likely to prove realistic than has been the case in the past under a non-automated system and to require at most only modest adjustments to suit the schedules of the parties. In order, however, that an EBT date can be arrived at for inclusion in the order, the City must have been previously supplied with a bill of particulars; if one has not already been served, counsel are advised to provide the City with a bill forthwith. The EBT date shall be consistent with the completion of all disclosure within the DCM track deadline, as shall be specified in the Case Scheduling Order.

The deadlines and the form of the Order were arrived at by the court after extensive consultations among representatives of the City of New York and plaintiffs' counsel on, and other members of, this court's Tort Advisory Committee. You may consult a copy of this form Order at Preliminary Conference Forms.

Once a Case Scheduling Order has been issued by the Justice assigned to the case, it will be scanned into NYSCEF if the case is an e-filed one, as most new matters now are. This will generate immediate e-mail notification (with a link to the order) to all counsel who are participating in e-filing in the case.

If the case is a paper matter, a copy of the Order will be posted to the Scroll application, accessible at no charge on the website. Counsel must consult Scroll to obtain a copy of the order as a copy will not be mailed to counsel. Since Scroll does not have a notification feature, counsel would be required to check Scroll on a regular basis to determine if the Order has been issued. The solution to this practical difficulty is for counsel to subscribe (again, there is no charge to do so) to the court system’s e-Track notification service, which will promptly dispatch an e-mail notification of the issuance of the Order to the subscribing attorney, who will be able to retrieve a copy of the order from Scroll.

In the event that an attorney perceives a problem with the Case Scheduling Order, he or she should call the City Case DCM Program (at 646-386-3683). A conference in court will be scheduled to address the matter. If good reason is presented for doing so, modifications will be made to the Order. However, failure to raise objections within the period fixed will result in waiver of those objections. If no objections are raised, the parties need not appear in court and the Order as framed will govern future disclosure in the case.

Failure to comply with the Order may result in the imposition of a penalty, such as waiver of the discovery, a financial sanction, preclusion, and the like.

3) Subsequent Disclosure Problems

In the event any disclosure dispute arises after the discovery process begins, the party aggrieved shall promptly, prior to the deadline in question and before making a motion, inform the City Case DCM Program of the existence of the dispute. A conference will promptly be scheduled at a convenient date and time.

Conferences about discovery problems and compliance conferences will take place before the Law Secretary of the Justice assigned to the case or a Court Attorney specially designated for this purpose. In the event that the problems raised cannot be resolved in this fashion, the matter will be referred to the assigned Justice.

The Case Scheduling Order will contain a date for a compliance conference. That conference will take place in a central location for all City DCM cases (currently Room 103 at 80 Centre Street).

4) Post-Note Procedures

For information on the procedures followed in City Cases after the filing of the note of issue, see Trials.

D. MOTOR VEHICLE AUTOMATED DIFFERENTIATED CASE MANAGEMENT

A similar automated DCM approach is applied to Motor Vehicle cases, which, like the tort cases in the City Parts, tend to be homogeneous. As with the City cases, an automated Case Scheduling Order will be issued by the court after the filing of an RJI accompanied by a request for a preliminary conference or a discovery motion in a Motor Vehicle case, or after disposition by the court of a non-disclosure motion if the case remains active. You may consultf this form of Order at Preliminary Conference Forms.

Motor Vehicle cases are presumed to be expedited cases and the deadlines set forth in the Order will reflect this fact. Orders will be posted to NYSCEF or Scroll in a paper case as described earlier.

If a party has an objection to any aspect of the Order issued, or in the event that discovery problems arise thereafter, counsel should contact the Motor Vehicle DCM Program (at 646-386-3682). A conference will be arranged to address such issues. Compliance conferences will be conducted as needed to assure compliance with the Order. Conferences will be held in the DCM Courtroom (currently Room 103 at 80 Centre Street).

For information on the procedures followed in Motor Vehicles after the filing of the note of issue, see Trials.

E. CITY AND MOTOR VEHICLE DCM CONTACT INFORMATION

City Case DCM:

Motor Vehicle DCM:

DCM Courtroom:

646-386-3687

646-386-3682

Room 103, 80 Centre
646-386-3687

October 2014