December 21, 2012
Contact: Steve Davis, Court
Communications Officer, (515)725-8058
Supreme Court Establishes Business Specialty Court Pilot Project
Des Moines, December 21, 2012 —The Iowa Supreme Court today issued an order establishing a
three-year pilot project for an Iowa Business Specialty Court for complex
commercial cases with $200,000 or more in dispute. The primary impetus for the
pilot project is to improve the overall efficiency and responsiveness of the
Iowa court system.
"This pilot project results
from the extensive work of the Iowa Civil Justice Reform Task Force and its
efforts to make Iowa's civil justice system faster, less complicated, more
affordable, and better equipped to handle the disputes of all litigants in the
Iowa court system," Supreme Court Justice Daryl Hecht, the chair of the task
force, said. "We hope that a focus on complex business cases, built into the
existing judicial branch framework, ultimately will develop efficiencies to
help other civil cases move through the court more quickly."
To begin the project, Iowa judges
will apply to serve as business court judges. The supreme court will then
select three judges based on their educational background, judicial and trial
practice experience in complex commercial cases, and personal
interest. The court anticipates accepting eligible commercial cases,
whether existing or newly filed, for the pilot program no later than May 1,
Participation is voluntary and all
parties to the dispute must agree to opt in to the business court pilot
program. The supreme court will establish a separately managed docket within
Iowa's unified court system for the business court that will leverage judicial
expertise and litigants' desire to tailor case management practices best suited
for resolving substantial business disputes fairly and expeditiously. The
pilot program is designed and will operate within the framework of the existing
Iowa court system with minimal impact on the balance of court operations. It
is not intended to be a separate court favoring business litigation over other
court priorities. The business court pilot program is not expected to divert
judicial branch resources from existing priorities.
Only cases in which compensatory
damages totaling $200,000 or more are alleged, or claims seeking primarily
injunctive or declaratory relief, will be eligible for assignment to the
business court docket. In addition, to be eligible a case must satisfy one
or more of the following criteria:
Arise from technology licensing
agreements, including software and biotechnology licensing agreements, or any
agreement involving the licensing of any intellectual property right, including
Relate to the internal affairs of
businesses (i.e., corporations, limited liability companies, general
partnerships, limited liability partnerships, sole proprietorships,
professional associations, real estate investment trusts, and joint ventures),
including the rights or obligations between or among business participants, or
the liability or indemnity of business participants, officers, directors,
managers, trustees, or partners, among themselves or to the business.
III. Involve claims of breach of contract, fraud, misrepresentation,
or statutory violations between businesses arising out of business transactions
Be a shareholder derivative or
commercial class action.
Arise from commercial bank
Relate to trade secrets,
non-compete, non-solicitation, or confidentiality agreements.
Involve commercial real property
disputes other than residential landlord-tenant disputes and foreclosures.
Be a trade secrets, antitrust, or
IX. Involve business tort claims between or among two or more
business entities or individuals as to their business or investment activities
relating to contracts, transactions, or relationships between or among them.
The State Court Administrator will
evaluate the pilot project annually to assess the program's operation and
recommend any necessary adjustments.
The Supervisory Order and Memorandum
of Operation is posted on the Iowa Judicial Branch website at http://www.iowacourts.gov/wfdata/frame14275-1022/File158.pdf
The Iowa Civil Justice Reform Task
Force final report is on the Iowa Judicial Branch website at: http://www.iowacourts.gov/wfdata/frame14137-1152/File65.pdf
Iowa Supreme Court
1111 East Court Avenue
Des Moines, IA 50319