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Assignments and Case Management


Concerning:  Arrangement of Court Parts and Assignment of Justices  /  The Comprehensive Civil Justice Program / Assignment of City Cases / Differentiated Case Management ("DCM") / Neutral Evaluation (informally known as "Mediation") / Assignments for Trial / Automated City Case and Motor Vehicle DCM

A. ASSIGNMENTS AND OPERATION OF THE PARTS IN GENERAL

The court currently operates the following Parts: (a) Tax Certiorari and Condemnation; (b) City; (c) Transit; (d) Matrimonial; (e) Motor Vehicle; (f) Medical, Dental and Podiatric Malpractice; (g) Mass Tort (Center for Complex Litigation); (h) Article 81; (i) General Assignment; (j) Commercial Division; (k) a Hybrid; (l) Mortgage Foreclosure; and (m) Trial Parts.

Justices are assigned to the various parts by the Administrative Judge. Upon the filing of an RJI, cases are identified by action type and then by an automated process assigned at random to a Justice from among those designated to handle cases of that type.

Case Assignments:

Each case is generally assigned to an IAS Justice for its life, including for trial purposes, except for City cases. Each City case is assigned to a City Justice until a note of issue is filed, when it is reassigned to the City Waiting List in calendar number order.

The pure IAS regime is qualified as follows. If a pure IAS Justice is not able to try a case assigned to him or her, the case may be referred to the Administrative Coordinating Part (Part 40), which shall send the case out for jury selection and trial or assign the case to a Justice for trial, as described hereafter. Second, after a case has been pending in a pure IAS Part for a period without having advanced to trial, it will be subject to removal from the Part by the Administrative Judge for prompt trial so as to prevent serious backlogs and disparities in waiting times in the IAS Parts.  Cases so removed will also proceed to trial through the Administrative Coordinating Part.  Third, some cases, with the approval of the assigned Justice, may be referred to Part 40 for trial by a Neutral Evaluation Attorney when settlement cannot be reached in the Neutral Evaluation Program.

There are at present various pure IAS General Assignment Parts (handling General cases), one Motor Vehicle Part, two pure IAS Medical, Dental and Podiatric Malpractice Parts, as well as a Part for City hospital cases and one that mediates certain malpractice cases pursuant to a grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and three pre-note City Parts and one Transit Part (for City and non-City Transit cases).  To address the overflow of trial-ready cases referred to in the preceding paragraph, and to assist in trial of City cases, there are a number of back-up Trial Parts.  An Administrative Coordinating Judge ("ACJ") in Part 40, working with the Administrative Judge ("AJ"), coordinates referral of these trial-ready cases to a trial Justice. Pure IAS Justices refer cases to the ACJ. Except for the AJ or ACJ, an IAS Justice will not refer a case directly to another Justice for trial.

In addition, there are, as noted, Commercial Division Parts.  A number of Justices handle Article 81 matters and two Justices divide the large tax certiorari inventory.  Finally, several Justices have been designated by the Administrative Judge to serve as part of a Center for Complex Litigation, which handles mass tort cases.  The Justices so assigned are Justice Sherry Klein Heitler (Part 30), Justice Cynthia S. Kern (Part 55), Justice Shirley W. Kornreich (Part 54), Justice Carol Huff (Part 32), and Justice Martin Shulman (Part 1).  These Justices also maintain other assignments.

All cases seeking forfeiture of criminal proceeds or other remedy pursuant to Article 13-A of the Civil Practice Law and Rules are assigned to a single Justice (Justice Martin Shulman).

City cases are assigned in accordance with a protocol.  For access to this protocol, click here

For the current arrangement of all Parts and assignment of Justices thereto, click here.

Differentiated Case Management:

Under the concept of Differentiated Case Management ("DCM"), cases are assigned to a "track" upon filing of the RJI: standard, expedited or complex. See Uniform Rule 202.19. Medical Malpractice and Commercial Division cases are considered complex matters. All Motor Vehicle cases are treated as expedited matters upon filing. All other cases are treated as standard cases when filed, except for mass torts, tax certiorari cases and matrimonial matters, which have unique DCM tracks (20, 48, and six months respectively). Cases are assigned to the appropriate DCM track by the clerk upon filing of the RJI.

Pursuant to Uniform Rule 202.19 (b), 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 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

Despite the wording of Rule 202.19 (b) (2), the allotted time begins to run, not from the preliminary conference, but from filing of the RJI. These deadlines also constitute pre-note standards and goals for purposes of internal monitoring of case activity. Since these 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 need 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 filing of the note of issue. Rule 202.19(b) (3).

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 (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).

The applicable standards and goals - - pre-note, post-note, and both combined - - are recorded in the Civil Case Information System ("CCIS") computer program for each case depending upon the DCM track to which the case is assigned. Attorneys who consult CCIS or the court's Supreme Court Records On-Line Library ("Scroll") on this website, or who receive case information, which is CCIS-based, from the court system's free case tracking service, e-Track, or attorneys' service companies may note or receive information reflecting these 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. 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." 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 City cases, a unique set of DCM procedures are applied. See below.

Pre-note and trial procedures are set forth in the Uniform Rules of the Justices and, for Commercial Division cases, the Rules of the Commercial Division Justices.

The Neutral Evaluation Program:

When a note of issue is filed in a case in the General inventory (i.e., in one of the pure IAS General Assignment Parts), in a Motor Vehicle case, or in a commercial case outside the Commercial Division, the matter is promptly referred to the court’s Neutral Evaluation Program (known informally as "Mediation"). These cases are conferenced by two Neutral Evaluation Attorneys, senior Court Attorneys with special experience and expertise in settlements, and settlement is explored in detail. 

The procedures of the Program are explained in the Program Protocol.

Trial Activity:

When a case is sent out for jury selection, the attorneys will be given a jury slip and must report immediately to the Central Jury Room. A jury will be selected in accordance with Uniform Rule 202.33. There is a five-day maximum time during which a selected jury may wait for trial to begin. Time spent on telephone standby ("TCI") is included. After five days the jury must be disbanded.

Placement of Cases for Trial:

Cases reach the Jury Room from the pure IAS Parts, the Administrative Judge, and the Administrative Coordinating Part (Part 40).   The Justice assigned to a pure IAS Part who sends a case to the Jury Room will try that case. If the IAS Justice cannot try a case, it will be sent to the Administrative Coordinating Judge. Cases processed through Part 40 will be assigned for trial in accordance with the directives of the Administrative Coordinating Judge.

B. CITY CASE AUTOMATED DIFFERENTIATED CASE MANAGEMENT

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.

Setting a Disclosure Schedule in City DCM Cases:

Upon the filing of a request for judicial intervention and a request for a preliminary conference 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, the motion will be referred to the court’s Case Management Office for the scheduling of a conference or the issuance of a Case Scheduling Order.

Instead of requiring that attorneys appear in court for a preliminary conference, the court will issue a Case Scheduling Order. City cases are presumed to be standard cases under the DCM regime, meaning that discovery is to be completed within 12 months from filing of the RJI. However, where the RJI is accompanied by a motion, 12 months will be allowed for discovery commencing from the time the motion is resolved, if the case remains active after the decision. 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.

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; 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. Counsel in these cases are advised to provide the City with a bill of particulars forthwith, if one has not already been served.

The deadlines and the form of the Order were arrived at by the court after extensive consultations between representatives of the City of New York and plaintiffs' counsel on, and other members of, this court's Tort Advisory Committee.  To consult a copy of this form Order, click here.

Once a case scheduling order has been signed by the Justice assigned to the case, a copy will be posted in the Supreme Court Records On-Line Library (“SCROLL”). Counsel must consult SCROLL to obtain a copy of the order as a copy will no longer be mailed to counsel. All relevant deadlines, including the date for a compliance conference, will be set forth in the case scheduling order. Attorneys may obtain, at no charge, e-mail notification regarding issuance of the scheduling order and all other developments in their City cases and other cases by listing their cases with e-Track, the court system's case tracking service.

Any challenges to the Case Scheduling Order are to be brought to the attention of the Case Management Coordinators, who are senior court clerks specially designated to serve in this role. A conference will promptly be arranged by the Coordinator. 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.

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 Case Management Coordinator of the existence of the dispute. The Case Management Coordinator will promptly schedule a conference 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 Court Attorneys 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 (Room 103 at 80 Centre Street).

Post-Note Procedures:

Immediately after the filing of the note of issue, a conference will be scheduled in all City cases before a Court Attorney. At this conference, an examination will be made of settlement prospects. Numbers of cases settle at this stage and counsel should therefore be prepared to discuss settlement in detail.  The parties will also be called upon to review the state of discovery, which of course should have been completed by then. The court will confirm that the parties have received all discovery that was required, including that the City has in its file documents necessary to thorough settlement discussions, such as the relevant map in a slip and fall case. To the extent that any items have not been furnished by one side to the other, approprite directives will be made. It is important that this be done so that settlement discussions can be pursued thereafter, as discussed below, with all parties having in hand the information needed to evaluate the case and consider settlement.

As City cases pending on the City Waiting List near the top of the list, they will be referred to the Neutral Evaluation Program, described above. Attorneys for the plaintiffs will be required to bring their case file to conferences with a Neutral Evaluation Attorney so that discussions can be detailed and meaningful. If a City case does not reach settlement, it will be scheduled for a Last Clear Chance Conference before the Administrative Coordinating Judge. This represents the last opportunity to try to settle the case prior to jury selection. If the case is not settled at the Conference, it will appear in the Administrative Coordinating Part (Part 40 City) without fail exactly 14 days later, at which time it will be sent out for jury selection. For the form used to schedule the Last Clear Chance Conference, click here.

C. MOTOR VEHICLE AUTOMATED DIFFERENTIATED CASE MANAGEMENT

A similar automated 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 Case Management Office upon filing of an RJI accompanied by a request for a preliminary conference or a discovery motion, or after disposition by the court of a non-disclosure motion if the case remains active. To consult a copy of this form, click here.  Motor Vehicle cases are presumed to be expedited cases. Objections to the Order will be addressed by conference call or conference. Should any disclosure difficulties arise thereafter, the Case Management Office must be advised immediately, in advance of the deadline in issue and prior to motion practice. Compliance conferences will be conducted as needed to assure compliance with the Order.

November 2012