Chief Justice Stuart Rabner recently announced that, following the New Jersey Supreme Court’s November 13, 2014 order authorizing the Program, the New Jersey Judiciary will begin on January 1, 2015 accepting cases into the Complex Business Litigation Program. The Program will be a forum for the resolution of complex business, commercial and construction cases that meet the $200,000 threshold amount for damages. Parties in cases that do not meet the $200,000 threshold can file a motion to have their dispute included in the Program if there are compelling reasons to do so (e.g., the case will involve complex factual or legal issues, a large number of parties, complex discovery issues such as multiple witnesses or large numbers of documents, potential to impact the business beyond the particular dispute, or a significant interpretation of a business or commercial statute). In turn, parties that believe that their matter does not meet the $200,000 threshold may file a motion to have the case removed from the Program.
A core group of dedicated judges will manage complex business disputes in the Program. The effort is the “culmination of the Judiciary’s efforts to streamline and expedite service to litigants in complex business cases.” These judges will receive additional training in relevant areas of the law and in effective case and trial management, e-discovery, and other relevant topics. Each judge will also be expected to issue at least two written opinions annually. The judges assigned to the Program are:
- Judge J. Christopher Gibson (primary)
- Judge James P. Savio (backup)
- Judge Robert C. Wilson
- Civil Presiding Judge Marc M. Baldwin
- Judge Michael J. Kassel
- Judge James S. Rothschild, Jr.
- Judge Barry Sarkisian
- General Equity Presiding Judge Paul Innes
- Assignment Judge Travis L. Francis
- Judge Katie A. Gummer
- General Equity Presiding Judge
- Stephan C. Hansbury
- Judge Thomas J. LaConte
- Judge Thomas J. Walsh
- Assignment Judge Yolanda Ciccone
- Civil Presiding Judge Craig L. Wellerson
- Judge Richard J. Geiger
A Notice to the Bar was also issued, providing instructions for designating a matter as complex business litigation, qualifying as either a Type 508 (complex commercial) or Type 513 (complex construction) matter.
- Complex Commercial (508): Defined as claims by, against, and among parties that arise out of business or commercial transactions and involve parties’ exposure to potentially significant damage awards; or where the business or commercial claim involves complex factual or legal issues; a large number of separately represented parties; potential numerous pre-trial motions raising difficult or novel legal issues; case management of a large number of lay and expert witnesses or a substantial amount of documentary evidence (including electronically stored information); substantial time required to complete the trial; significant interpretation of a business or commercial statute; or involves other contentions of a complex business – commercial nature.
- Complex Construction (513): Defined as claims by, against, and among owners, contractors, subcontractors, fabricators and installers, architects, engineers, design and construction consultants, and other similar parties associated with a construction project that involves parties’ exposure to potentially significant damage awards because of claimed design and construction defects, or facility delivery delay claims or where the construction claim involves complex factual or legal issues; a large number of separately represented parties; potential numerous pre-trial motions raising difficult or novel legal issues; case management of a large number of lay and expert witnesses or a substantial amount of documentary evidence (including electronically stored information); substantial time required to complete the trial. Complex construction does not include construction and professional payment and billing claims, change order claims, wrongful termination, quantum merit, construction lien or mechanics lien claims, unless associated with a complex construction claim as herein described.
Cases that may also be included in the Program include actions to establish a constructive trust or impose an equitable lien to satisfy damages.
Additional Source: New Jersey Courts