Georgia’s Supreme Court has approved a rule making it easier for complex business cases filed in the Fulton County Superior Court to be assigned to that court’s Business Case Division. Previously, a case could be assigned to the Division only with all parties’ consent, resulting in relatively few cases being so assigned. Under the new rule, an eligible case may be assigned to the Division based on the parties’ joint request, the motion of one party, or a request submitted by the Superior Court Judge currently assigned the case, with briefs opposing assignment to the Business Case Division to be submitted within 20 days of any such motion or request. To be eligible for assignment, a case must have more than $1,000,000 in controversy. Eligible cases include those brought under the Georgia Securities Act of 1973, the Uniform Commercial Code as enacted in Georgia, the Georgia Business Corporation Code, Georgia’s Uniform Partnership Act, Georgia’s Uniform Limited Partnership Act, the Georgia Revised Uniform Limited Partnership Act, or the Georgia Limited Liability Company Act, as well as “any other action that the parties to the action and the Court believes warrants the attention of the Division, including large contractual and business tort cases as well as other complex commercial litigation.” Cases including personal injury claims, wrongful death claims, employment discrimination claims, or consumer claims in which each individual plaintiff’s claims are for less than $1,000,000 (that is, virtually all consumer class actions) still may not be assigned to the Division without all parties’ consent.
The Division comprises three Senior Judges and is intended to provide litigants in complex business cases an opportunity to benefit from those Senior Judges’ experience and expertise in business litigation. The rule also allows streamlined case administration – including electronic filing and videoconferences with the court – and contemplates scheduling orders tailored to the unique needs of each case.