Beginning January, 2016 the Asbestos (Department 30) and Civil Complex departments (Departments 17 and 21) are being merged. These three departments will be renamed the "Civil Complex/Asbestos" departments. While some changes will take place over time, effective January, 2016, the following changes will occur:
- All asbestos trials will be handled by Department 17 (Hon. George Hernandez), Department 21(currently Hon. Wynn Carville; transitioning to Hon. Winifred Smith), and Department 30 (Hon. Brad Seligman). All cases set for trial in 2016 previously assigned to Department 705 (Hon. Julia Spain) will be reassigned to one of the three department departments. Preference cases will be reassigned to one of the three Civil Complex/Asbestos departments for all purposes (i.e. motions and pretrial issues as well as trial). Starting in early 2016, Department 30 will re-assign a proportionate share of non-preference asbestos cases for trial to Departments 17 and 21. Impact: With this configuration, fewer trial departments are available for asbestos matters which may result in trial dates being set further out.
- Department 30 will handle the Complex Determination Hearings for all three departments and assign cases determined to be complex to one of the above three departments.
- Over time, it is expected that each of the three departments will obtain a proportionate share of asbestos and other complex cases.
- Following bench bar conferences, the court revised the initial Case Management Order and Pretrial Orders (modifications from prior versions are in bold). The new Pretrial Order will be issued for cases set for trial in 2016. Of particular note in the Pretrial Order are further limitations on the number of Motions in Limine, and mandatory disclosure of bankruptcy claims.
- Unless otherwise ordered each side is limited to a total of 5 motions in limine (previously 12); however, each defendant may additionally file up to 2 defendant-specific motions in limine (previously 3).
- No later than 14 days prior to the Pretrial Conference, a plaintiff must provide defendants copies of all claims made to bankruptcy trusts on behalf of plaintiff.
- The revised Case Management Order effective January 2016, limits the length of a plaintiff's deposition when a preferential trial date is sought, as well as clarifying the discovery conference process.
- If a plaintiff has sought or has notified defense counsel that he or she will seek preferential trial setting, there is a presumptive twenty (20) hours for defense examination, subject to adjustment up or down based on the number of defendants, job sites, and alleged exposures.
- Motions related to discovery (i.e. motions to compel, protective orders, etc.) may not be filed without leave of the court after an informal discovery conference; the discovery conference is a mandatory step before a motion may be filed.
This article is presented for informational purposes only and is not intended to constitute legal advice.