The Supreme Court of Ohio has adopted new rules creating a commercial docket pilot program in the courts of five Ohio counties. These commercial dockets will provide a specialized forum for the resolution of business disputes between and among business entities and individuals. The goal of the program is to resolve these business claims more efficiently for the parties to the dispute. The types of cases to be placed on the commercial docket include disputes involving contract issues, business torts, intellectual property, insurance coverage, trade secret and non-compete agreements, commercial property foreclosures, and shareholder and business owner internal disputes. Certain types of cases are specifically exempted from the commercial docket, including personal injury or wrongful death claims, consumers' rights claims, and employment law matters.
The commercial docket will be handled by one or two current judges of each court, who will receive special training. While these judges will still maintain a criminal docket, their civil docket will be comprised exclusively of these commercial cases. The hope is that specially trained judges who regularly handle these types of cases will be more efficient in resolving them. The rules include a specific time limit of 60 days from the date a motion is filed for the court to render a decision on it, and 18 months from the date of filing for a case to reach its conclusion.
Franklin and Hamilton counties intend to begin the program on January 1, 2009, with Montgomery, Cuyahoga, and Lucas counties following later. Cases already pending when the commercial docket begins will not qualify, but all eligible cases filed after the commercial docket has begun in a court will be assigned to it.