Proposed Amendment to Superior Court Rule 20

The Superior Court proposes to amend Superior Court Rule 20 by inserting the language of Superior Court Standing Order 1-17 as a new paragraph 8.  Standing Order 1-17 will terminate on the date that the amendment to Rule 20 becomes effective.

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Rule 20.  Individual Case Management and Tracking

(Applicable to Civil Actions)

Any case may receive individual management or tracking so that the parties may secure a cost-effective means to resolve their dispute.  To that end, the parties are encouraged to consider and propose options to achieve a less costly and more expeditious resolution of their dispute.  This rule sets forth a non-exclusive mechanism to implement any such proposals, while reserving the parties’ ability to exercise their full procedural and substantive rights if they so choose.   

  1. One or more parties may seek individual case management or tracking pursuant to this rule.  If all parties agree, they shall have the right to individual case management to the extent provided in paragraph 2 below.  In the absence of unanimity among the parties, any party may request that the judge exercise discretion to adopt individual case management or tracking in the interest of fair, timely, cost-effective and efficient resolution or litigation of the case.  
  2. All parties may agree to each of the following, unless the session judge specifically orders otherwise in writing for good cause:
    1. Immediate or early court conference for scheduling or case management (in person or by phone, as requested if feasible).
    2. Early, non-binding judicial assessment of the case.  The judge who conducts any such assessment will consider whether disqualification as to subsequent matters in the case is appropriate.
    3. Immediate scheduling of a prompt and firm trial date (preferably agreed-upon), which the court will make every effort to accommodate.  
    4. Scheduling of mediation, arbitration or other dispute resolution with a Superior Court approved alternative dispute resolution provider or a private alternative dispute resolution provider.
    5. Changes to standard pretrial deadlines, such as changes shortening the tracking order dates, the waiving of certain pre-trial motions such as motions made under Mass. R. Civ. P. 12 or Mass. R. Civ. P. 56 and, in medical malpractices cases, the waiver of the full statutory tribunal either in its entirety or so as to permit a prompt tribunal with the judge alone.
    6. Limits on discovery (by way of illustration: specific limitations on the subject matter of discovery, changes in the scope of discovery, procedures governing discovery disputes, limitations on eDiscovery, and the number or length of discovery events).
    7. Limits on oral arguments/court appearances not specifically ordered by the motion judge (by way of illustration: decision of categories of motions without argument; providing for telephonic argument).  Note that, on specific matters or motions, the judge may still schedule arguments or appearances that s/he anticipates will be necessary or helpful.
    8. Trial to a judge without a jury with or without additional conditions (by way of illustration: waiver of detailed written findings of fact and rulings of law; an agreement that expert testimony (in part, for example direct testimony, or in full) may be in writing; or agreement as to the number of witnesses, maximum trial time for each side’s evidence and/or total length of trial).
    9. Limitations on a trial by jury (such as by way of illustration:  agreement to a jury consisting of 6-8 people, waiver of attorney voir dire, or agreement to accept a verdict from fewer than 5/6 of the jurors, an agreement that expert testimony (in part, for example direct testimony, or in full) may be in writing, and agreement as to the number of witnesses, maximum trial time for each side’s evidence and/or total length of trial).
    10. Waiver of, or limitations on, the rights to appeal and to file post-trial motions.
    11. Any other proposals acceptable to the parties and the court.
  1. One or more parties may, without consent of all parties, move for any order granting the relief set forth in paragraph 2 and may make additional proposals for consideration by the court. Nothing in this rule, however, authorizes the court, over a party’s objection, to restrict or deny any right that is protected by rule, statute or constitution.
  2. Any party making a motion under this rule shall do so by serving and filing a Motion For Case-Specific Management (“Individual Case Management Form”) pursuant to Superior Court Rule 9A. See Appendix of Forms to the Superior Court Rules, also available for download on the Superior Court’s website.  
  3. No proposal may extend any deadline beyond the date otherwise provided in Standing Order 1-88, unless the tracking order for that case is itself amended.
  4. Any matter stipulated pursuant to paragraph 2, or order entered pursuant to paragraph 3, may be revised or vacated on motion or by the court on its own motion, for good cause.
  5. Nothing in this rule limits or precludes the right of any party to request a conference pursuant to Mass. R. Civ. P. 16 with or without completion of an Individual Case Management Form. Nor does it limit any party’s right to request relief under any other statute, court rule, order or other law.

[Propose to add new Paragraph 8]

  1. For purposes of Superior Court Rule 20(2)(h), the phrase "waiver of detailed written findings of fact" means waiver of written judicial findings with the level of detail required by Mass. R. Civ. P. 52(a).  It does not mean waiver of findings that provide the equivalent of a jury verdict within the meaning of Mass. R. Civ. P. 49.  See also Mass. R. Crim. P. 27 (by analogy only).

    Therefore, when the parties agree to waive, in whole or part, detailed findings by the judge in a bench trial, the following rules shall apply:
    1. The judge shall, at a minimum, answer special questions on the elements of each claim, at a level of detail comparable to a special jury verdict form pursuant to Mass. R. Civ. P. 49(a), unless the parties explicitly choose, or the judge expressly orders, findings in the form provided by Mass. R. Civ. P. 49(b) (a general verdict accompanied by answer to interrogatories).
    2. The parties waive all arguments in the trial court or on appeal that require or depend upon the existence of detailed written findings of fact.  Any appellate review of the court’s decision and of the judgment entered shall be according to the standard of review that would apply to a verdict by a jury in a case tried to a jury and to the judgment entered thereon.  In addition, the parties may agree to waive their rights of appeal in whole or in part.