Delaware Now Provides a New Option for filing Major Business Lawsuits in Delaware State Court.

Kevin Brady, an experienced Delaware litigator, prepared this overview.

Effective May 1, 2010, the President Judge of the Delaware Superior Court issued an Administrative Directive creating a new division within the jurisdiction of the Superior Court to handle complex commercial and business cases. This new division, created in New Castle County is known as the the Complex Commercial Litigation Division (“CCLD”). For a case to qualify for CCLD status, it must:

(1) include a claim with an amount in controversy of at least one million dollars (designated in the pleadings for either jury or non-jury trials); or

(2) involve an exclusive choice of court agreement or a judgment resulting from an exclusive choice of court agreement; or

(3) be so designated by the President Judge.

CCLD cases will not include cases containing a claim for personal, physical or mental injury; mortgage foreclosure actions; mechanics’ lien actions; condemnation proceedings; or “any case involving an exclusive choice of court agreement where a party to the agreement is an individual acting primarily for personal, family, or household purposes or where the agreement relates to an individual or collective contract of employment.” Judges Fred Silverman, Jan Jurden and Joseph Slights have been assigned to CCLD.

Unlike most cases in Superior Court, CCLD cases will be governed by a uniform case management order, a protocol for addressing the inadvertent production of privileged documents, a protocol for expert discovery which covers among other things, the scope of discovery for experts and finally, e-discovery plan guidelines. Copies of the protocols are attached to the directive establishing the CCLD, available at the link below.

Another key point is that all CCLD cases will be given a firm and prompt trial date, which will take priority over the assigned judge’s other civil cases. CCLD cases will have early Rule 16 scheduling conference after all responsive pleadings have been filed to discuss the progression of the case through trial and preparation of a case management order. CCLD cases will also require mandatory early initial disclosures such as those contemplated by Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26(a).

The President Judge’s Directive explaining the program is available here. The Directive that identifies the judges assigned to this new division is available here.