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Litigation: SDNY runs the hurry-up offense

New pretrial rules set to speed up case disposition.

A new pilot program is officially under way in the Southern District of New York and lawyers are going to have to learn a new set of rules. The program, which only applies to complex civil cases, will use the next 18 months to determine if the changes accelerate the docket.

The Pilot Program Regarding Case Management Techniques for Complex Civil Cases attempts to streamline four pretrial areas:

The Program also streamlines discovery. Providing a clear and significant benefit to defendants, after a Rule 12(b)(6) or 12(c) motion, discovery of documents and e-discovery can continue, but all discovery is stayed with respect to claims that are the subject of the motion. As for discovery disputes, the Court handles all of them with a short three-page letter, except for privilege and deposition disagreements. The Program urges judges to issue a decision within two weeks of submission.

For motion practice, the Program formalizes, in some respects, what many Southern District judges have adopted in their individual practice rules. For each motion, except motions for reconsideration, motions for a new trial and motions in limine, the Court will hold a pre-motion conference. The moving party must request the conference prior to filing the motion and seven business days prior to the conference. In a modest shift from the norm, for Rule 12(b)(6) motions to dismiss, either the Court orders the parties to discuss the dispute before the motion, giving plaintiff an opportunity to amend the complaint, or the Court holds a conference after the motion is made.

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Matthew Ingber

Matthew Ingber is a litigation partner at Mayer Brown.

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