Supreme Court creates pilot to streamline civil litigation
In an effort to streamline civil litigation disputes, the Indiana Supreme Court has established a pathways pilot project “to achieve right-sized case management.”
The purpose of the pilot program is to “decrease the amount of time until case disposition, significantly reduce discovery disputes, allow judges to spend more time on complicated issues, and increase the satisfaction of court users.”
The program will start with cases filed on June 1, according to a May 19 order.
According to the order, the Civil Litigation Taskforce’s Final Report recommended a civil case management pilot project using a pathways approach.
Under the pathway assignment system, pathways are presumptively assigned by case type, but the parties or the judge can move a case to a different pathway as needed.
There are two presumptive pathways.
First is the Streamlined Pathway, which includes the following case types:
- CC, Civil Collection
- EV, Petition for Eviction
- MF, Mortgage Foreclosure
- MI, Miscellaneous
- TP, Verified Petition for Issuance of a Tax Deed
- TS, Application for Judgment in a Tax Sale
The second pathway, Complex Pathway, includes:
- CT, Civil Tort
- PL, Civil Plenary
Additionally, the General Pathway will be for cases that fall somewhere in the middle of the Streamlined or Complex pathways. However, no cases will presumptively assigned to the General Pathway.
For Complex and General Pathway cases, participating judges must set early case management conferences and enter a case management order and discovery protocol.
Firm trial dates must be set six months from the date of the case management conference for Streamlined Pathway cases, 12 months for General Pathway cases and 18 months for Complex Pathway cases.
Discovery will be tied to the pathway assigned, and each pathway will have mandatory disclosures and limits on the number of written discovery requests and the duration of depositions. The May 19 order outlines the discovery rules.
For any conflict that exists between a pilot judge’s local court rules and the pilot procedures, the pilot procedures control.
The following judges will participate in the pilot project:
- Judge Jon Brown, Hamilton Superior Court 2
- Judge Jennifer DeGroote, Allen Superior Court 3
- Judge Kimberly Dowling, Delaware Circuit Court 2
- Judge Mark Dudley, Madison Circuit Court 6
- Judge William Hughes, Hamilton Superior Court 3
- Judge Hunter Reece, Warren Circuit Court
- Judge Richard Stalbrink Jr., LaPorte Superior Court 2
Forms have been created for use of the pilot and are located on the Indiana Supreme Court’s website.
The Indiana Office of Court Services will provide staff support to the pilot program.