Supreme Queens (Updated January 2020)
Acting Administrative Judge George Silver has been instituting major changes in procedures in Supreme Queens, He held a “Town Hall Meeting” on 1/23/20, which was well attended by both the lawyers and Judges. At this meeting he announced some major changes for Queens Supreme Court, as follows:
Preliminary Conferences (PCs) and Compliance Conferences (CCs) will be combined in one part with Judge Lancman. It is likely that either the PCs or CCs will be in the afternoon. He stated the PC/CC part would be well-staffed (we shall see).
PC/CC forms will not list a Note of Issue date. (This is a big change for Queens)
The parties cannot file Note of Issue until the parties stipulate in a CC Order that discovery is complete. Yes, this is per the CPLR but Queens had not been following this for many years.
Once this system is in place, motions for discovery will be in the discovery part, not the IAS part. However, until the new system is in place, it is suggested that discovery motions shall continue in the IAS parts.
If discovery is not complete at the CC, a further CC will be schedule and such conferences shall continue until the case can be certified as discovery complete.
It is contemplated that some cases will be transferred to Civil Court per CPLR 325(d) at the PC. These would be mostly cases with $25K policies. The Court will expect the insurance companies to disclose this info at the PC.
Justice Lancman is expected to rule on discovery disputes at the PC/CC stage and issue Orders.
There is some expectation of settlement discussion at the CC stage, but this remains to be seen and may depend on staffing.
At the CC the parties should be familiar with what discovery is still open and be prepared to schedule actual dates for completion of EBT’s, IME’s etc. Per-diem attorneys will be permitted to appear, but have been directed to appear with sufficient knowledge and authority to comply with the courts directives.
There are many cases that are in the system as “Stayed” pursuant to prior “In person conferences” formerly known as “Ritholtz conferences”. These are being phased out and cases that already have such conferences scheduled may continue to have them but these cases will be phased into the new system. At some point these cases may be subject to a “mass calendar call” so the prior “stay system” can be eliminated. We are monitoring for this.
The biggest change in Queens is that NOTE OF ISSUE WILL NOT BE FILED UNLESS THE PARTIES STIPULATE THAT DISCOVERY IS COMPLETE.
To cover a PC or a CC, we require:
From Plaintiff’s counsel: B/P; any prior Orders; status of discovery and any other discovery issues which you wish to be addressed, a contact person at the firm with authority to confirm scheduling and address legal issues which may arise.
From Defense counsel: Plaintiff’s B/P; any prior Orders; status of discovery and any other discovery issues which you wish to be addressed, a contact person at the firm with authority to confirm scheduling and address legal or claims issues which may arise. Information regarding insurance policy limits and any coverage issues.
TSP (Trial Scheduling Part): Justice Silver has been presiding in TSP, generally on Mondays, Thursdays and Fridays. On other days a rotation of other Queens Supreme Judges have been presiding.
This part has been changing day to day, but Justice Silver has made clear that he expects attorneys to appear with detailed knowledge and authority in TSP. One reason he instituted the changes in the PC/CC and Notes of Issue rules was to curtail the cases in TSP with open discovery issues and pending motions. Per-diems can appear in TSP, but we must have proper prep and be able to engage in meaningful settlement discussion if the presiding Judge requests it. While it is not expected that the Court will send cases out for trial on an initial TSP appearance, I would expect this to happen IF parties appear without knowing the case. On subsequent TSP appearances, I expect the level of required preparation and authority to be even higher. Parties should prepare accordingly.
Presumptive ADR – Certain carriers have agreed to participate in a ADR program. These are selected groups of cases that will be conferenced on a special calendar with intense participation from the Court, with a view towards settlement. Some of these cases will be relatively early in the process, perhaps even before EBT’s have been conducted. On the ADR calendar the carriers send several claims reps and attorneys who have reviewed their files in detail. Plaintiff’s attorneys who appear at these should be well prepared and make a good faith effort at resolution. Per-diems can appear at presumptive ADR, but must be properly prepared. I am willing to appear on these ADR cases, but only if I am satisfied with the level of preparation and only if I have access to an attorney at the firm who can make settlement decisions. Note – if there are settlement possibilities the court expects the attorneys to be able to contact their clients. My fee for appearing on a presumptive ADR case is $250.