The Iowa Supreme Court is moving forward with implementation of a Business Specialty Court Pilot Project and will begin receiving cases on May 1, 2013. The Business Specialty Court Pilot Project grows out of the recommendations of Iowa’s Supreme Court Task Force for Civil Justice Reform, which issued its final report, “Reforming the Iowa Civil Justice System”, in March of 2012. Among the recommendations was the establishment of a business court pilot project, one judge/one case and date certain for trial, adoption of the Federal Rules’ initial disclosure regime, and a two-tiered differentiated case management pilot project. As a first step in response to these recommendations, the Iowa Supreme Court has established this three-year pilot project for complex cases. Cases are eligible to be heard in the Business Specialty Court Pilot Project if compensatory damages totaling $200,000 or more are alleged, or the claims seek primarily injunctive or declaratory relief. In addition, eligible cases must satisfy one or more of the criteria listed in the Memorandum of Operation issued by the Supreme Court. The Court has appointed three judges to serve as business court judges for the pilot project: Hon. Michael D. Huppert, Hon. Annette J. Scieszinski, and Hon. John D. Telleen.
Supreme Court Justice Daryl Hecht, the chair of the Task Force, summed up the purpose of the pilot project:
This pilot project results from the extensive work of the Iowa Civil Justice Reform Task Force and its efforts to make Iowa’s civil justice system faster, less complicated, more affordable, and better equipped to handle the disputes of all litigants in the Iowa court system. We hope that a focus on complex business cases, built into the existing judicial branch framework, ultimately will develop efficiencies to help other civil cases move through the court more quickly.