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Published: Saturday, 1/3/2009

Commercial law docket opens

A pilot program designed to funnel all commercial litigation cases to one of two Lucas County Common Pleas judges began yesterday with the hope that businesses will have cases decided more quickly and both plaintiffs and defendants can expect more consistent decisions.

The Ohio Supreme Court initiated the concept earlier this year. In addition to Lucas County, Cuyahoga, Franklin, and Hamilton counties have agreed to participate in the pilot program, which runs through 2012.

The types of cases that could come before a commercial docket judge include business liquidations, trade-secret disputes, and shareholder disagreements.

Commercial cases still will be filed in the county clerk's office and assigned randomly to a judge. However, as of yesterday, plaintiffs' attorneys will move to have cases reassigned to either Judge Gary Cook or Judge Gene Zmuda - the two judges handling commerciallitigation dockets. In exchange, the judges will relinquish civil lawsuits that do not fall under the commercial docket requirements.

The Supreme Court Task Force on Commercial Dockets will undertake an evaluation of the commercial docket at each pilot project court and make recommendations to the justices.

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