Summary Description of the Business Litigation Session

The Business Litigation Session of the Superior Court (BLS) provides a forum for business and commercial disputes which, because of their complexity, will benefit from individualized and collaborative case management.  The BLS consists of two full time sessions committed to the timely and efficient resolution of commercial disputes and other complex cases.   

Categories of cases heard in the BLS include shareholder derivative claims, business torts, intellectual property and insurance coverage disputes, and claims  arising from  the  sale of assets,  corporate mergers,  and  restrictive covenants in employment agreements.    The BLS also hears matters brought by the Attorney General on behalf of classes of consumers as well as actions brought by private parties alleging unfair and deceptive business practices.

The judges, all seasoned veterans of the Superior Court, are permanently assigned to the two sessions, and work together in teams of two, each judge sitting in the session for six months at a time.  Judge Janet Sanders is the Administrative Justice of the BLS and is teamed with Judge Christine Roach in BLS2.  Judge Thomas Billings and Judge Mitchell Kaplan share the BLS1 session.  Each judge has the discretion to retain control over a case that needs close oversight and does so even when the judge is not sitting in the session itself.  As a consequence of this continuity in assignment and management, litigants can be assured of consistency in judicial decision-making.  BLS judges submit all of their decisions to a publicly accessible database so as to foster the development of a well-defined body of business law at the trial court level.

The BLS also has the advantage of a smaller caseload coupled with a dedicated court clerk for each session and a staff attorney.   This allows for scheduling of motions on short notice, judicial responsiveness to discovery disputes, and timely, well-reasoned rulings on substantive matters.

Case management is an important goal of the BLS. Within a few months of the filing of the complaint, a judge will convene a litigation control conference and confer with counsel to craft a scheduling order for completion of discovery, filing of dispositive motions, and a final pretrial conference. Trial dates, once assigned, are firm, with the guarantee that the case will be reached on the date scheduled.   

Conscious of the rising cost of litigation, the BLS has developed a pilot project which allows for automatic discovery without the need for specific requests for information. When disputes arise, they can be resolved by arranging for a teleconference with or immediate court appearance before the judge without the need for motion practice.

In addition, the BLS has adopted a procedural order that requires parties to confer with each other and with the judge before they file any motions that will be only partially dispositive of the case.   The purpose of the rule is to screen out those motions that do not narrow the issues for trial and consume resources without truly advancing the case toward resolution.   

In summary, the BLS provides consistency, predictability and efficiency in areas of litigation where those qualities are particularly important.