Ohio Chief Justice: Project will benefit businesses

John O'Brien Apr. 25, 2007, 2:00pm


COLUMBUS, Ohio - Ohio Supreme Court Chief Justice Thomas Moyer said Wednesday that the state's court system is developing a pilot project to help with the problem of commercial litigation.

Moyer made the remarks during his annual State of the Judiciary Address in the chambers of the state's House of Representatives.

"(We) all share a concern for the economic realities challenging creators of public policy and creators of jobs. When making decisions to locate or remain in Ohio, employers assess a number of criteria," Moyer said. "Not so obvious, but important to many, is the prospect of civil litigation arising from commercial transactions-costly, time-consuming litigation.

"A number of states have responded to that reality by creating business or complex commercial dockets in courts of general jurisdiction. Such dockets are devoted to litigation between businesses, not consumer transactions. Most business-to-business litigation is different from other litigation in the number of documents and witnesses, the extent of the motion practice, discovery disputes, and increasingly, knowledge of technology. Often such cases benefit from advanced case management techniques and the availability of dispute resolution alternatives."

Moyer mentioned a resolution adopted by West Virginia's legislature that said states with a business court system laud its success in persuading businesses to locate or remain in those states.

"For these reasons, I appointed a task force co-chaired by Judge John Bessey and Pat Fischer, president of the Cincinnati Bar Association, to develop a pilot project for common pleas courts in Ohio," Moyer continued. "The project will determine the best means of adopting commercial dockets in some of our common pleas courts."

At least 10 states already have business courts, designed to streamline the process that can occasionally be drawn out by complex business issues. Georgia Supreme Court Chief Justice Leah Ward Sears introduced a similar program to Ohio's during her State of the Judiciary Address in January. It is called the Business Court Pilot Program and was introduced in Fulton County.

"Legal disputes are a fact of life in the business community," Sears said. "And when disputes arise, companies need assurance that they will be handled efficiently, expeditiously and competently."

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