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ALERT: Substantial Changes to the Montgomery County Court Civil Rules

April 6, 2016

What’s not changing?

Nothing will be changing for cases filed in or transferred to Montgomery County from 2011 to 2015. It is anticipated, however, that the new procedures being applied to 2010 and older cases will gradually apply to 2011 cases after the backlog has gone down. It is also important to note if there is inactivity in a matter after 24 months, the Court will request your appearance for a conference. 

Rule 212 Conferences may still be requested at any time if the case is ready for adjudication at arbitration or trial.

You may still request a Case Management Conferences may also still be requested at any time and without consent of the other party in order to receive court-ordered deadlines pertaining to discovery, expert reports, IMEs, depositions, and other related case events. Keep in mind, however, that the Court will not be granting deadline extensions for cases filed in 2016 and beyond.

Changes in Cases Filed Prior to December 31, 2010

This year, the Court will be paying special attention to cases filed or transferred to the county in 2010 and earlier because of the sizeable backlog of these cases. Due to the backlog, the Court intends to list at least 15 of these cases for trial each month.

Please note the following:

·         You WILL NOT get a pre-trial conference for a case filed in 2010 or earlier.

·         You will receive an order from the court 90 days before your trial-ready month. You will be allowed to conduct any trial depositions during that 90 day period.

·         For requests to reschedule due to scheduling conflicts, the Court will only consider attorney attachments for trial within the five counties (Philadelphia, Montgomery, Bucks, Delaware, and Chester). For any other rescheduling request, the Court will require attendance of trial counsel on the date and time listed on the notice. No exception will be made for any other scheduling conflicts, including expert witness availability.

·         In the trial-ready month, the Court will provide 48-hours notice of the trial date. If the case is not called for trial in the specified month, it will be placed on call again in approximately six (6) months, at which point it will be prioritized for trial.

Changes in Cases Filed After January 1, 2016

Any case filed in or transferred to Montgomery County on or after January 1, 2016  will no longer be attorney-driven; the Court has amended its local rules in an effort to resolve these cases more expeditiously. These amendments include:

·         Court deadlines will be hard deadlines – there will be no more stipulating amongst counsel to change or extend them.

·         Per Local Rule 200, cases within arbitration limits will move through the court within twelve (12) months (9 months with 3 months of possible buffer time). Major cases will move through the court within twenty-four (24) months (18 months with 6 months of possible buffer time).

The Discovery Master Program, detailed in Local Rule 4019, has changed in order to process discovery motions more expeditiously. 

·        Discovery Masters disfavor any case event that is unilaterally scheduled by counsel. Any and all discovery should be conducted with attempts of mutual cooperation between the parties. Likewise, there should be a good faith attempt to informally resolve any discovery dispute prior to the filing of a formal motion.

·         Motions filed in Discovery Court should always summarize the facts of the case in the first paragraph of the motion. The Discovery Master does not have access to any other pleadings or case documents, so the motion is their only reference to the case.

·         Memorandums of law do not need to be included in a discovery motion unless there is a unique legal issue.

·         If there is a perceived conflict with a particular Discovery Master assigned to the case, Court Administration should be notified immediately.

·         Discovery motions can be heard on the filings in lieu of oral argument by agreement of the parties and request to the Discovery Master.

For more information, please contact Chris Mavros at cgmavros@zarwin.com. 

*This case was not handled by Zarwin Baum attorneys.


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