Courts Are Closed and You Have Business Dispute … What Are Your Options?
March 22, 2020
Richard H. Epstein
Federal and state courts in New York and New Jersey have adjourned all civil jury trials, adjourned many civil bench trials and halted most in-person conferences and oral arguments. If you are a party in litigation who would benefit from a delay, then this situation might be acceptable. But, if you need your existing case to move forward or need to file suit to obtain relief, then the status quo will not do. Below are five tips to move your existing case forward or to seek relief regarding a new dispute in a smart, aggressive and cost-effective manner:
- Limited discovery motions. As noted above, if your adversary’s counsel is not being cooperative, a motion to compel remote discovery — or a letter application where permitted or required by the court — is your best leverage.
- A dispositive motion. If you have enough facts and the law on your side to win the case, why wait? Make the motion now. Having a well-reasoned dispositive motion before the court may also lead to settlement discussion.
- Pre-judgment relief. Consider whether your case warrants pre-judgment relief such as attachments.
4. Proceed with preparing your case so that it is “ready to go” once courts return to normal operations
This crisis will end. Courts may attempt to pick up the slack by recalling judges out of retirement; governments may move quickly to fill open judicial seats and to fund and fill additional slots. At that point, it may be in your best interest to push the case full-speed by being ready to take depositions, submit expert reports and request a trial date. But you and your counsel cannot do that if your case has been back-burnered during this crisis. Now is a good time for counsel to review documents produced by the other side and non-parties, interview witnesses, prepare deposition outlines and hire experts.