If you have ever sued or been sued, then you know litigation can be very expensive. You may also know how slowly most lawsuits move through our crowded court system.
There is good news for Tennessee business owners: Tennessee is joining a number of other states which have created special “business courts” that handle only certain types of business, corporate and commercial lawsuits. Other states that have created special business courts include Delaware, New York, Colorado, Georgia and South Carolina.
Effective May 1, 2015, Chancellor Ellen Hobbs Lyle of Davidson County will begin presiding over Tennessee’s new Business Court. According to the Tennessee Supreme Court: “[t]he Business Court is a specialized trial court established to (1) provide cost effective disposition of business cases and procedures adapted to the needs of each case; and (2) to develop a body of rulings from which lawyers and litigants can better predict and assess outcomes in business cases.”
Cases are eligible to be heard by the Business Court if:
- the complaint was filed on or after May 1, 2015; and
- the complaint alleges at least $50,000 compensatory damages, or asserts claims seeking primarily injunctive or declaratory relief; and
- the case meets one or more of the following criteria:
- relates to the internal affairs of businesses (i.e., corporations, limited liability companies, general partnerships, limited liability partnerships, sole proprietorships, professional associations, real estate investment trusts, and joint ventures), including the rights or obligations between or among shareholders, partners, and members, or the liability or indemnity of officers, directors, managers, trustees or partners;
- involves claims of breach of contract, fraud, misrepresentation, breach of fiduciary duty or statutory violations between businesses arising out of business transactions or relationships;
- constitutes a shareholder derivative or commercial class action;
- involves commercial real property disputes other than residential landlord-tenant disputes and foreclosures;
- involves business claims between or among two or more business entities or individuals as to their business or investment activities relating to contracts, transactions, or relationships between or among them;
- arises from technology licensing agreements, including software and biotechnology licensing agreements, or any agreement involving the licensing of any intellectual property right, including patent rights;
- constitutes an action alleging violations of a noncompete, non-solicitation, or confidentiality agreement, or an antitrust, trade secret, or securities-related action; or
- involves a commercial construction contract dispute and/or commercial construction defect claim(s).
The Business Court will have its own separate case docket and the parties (and their lawyers) will be required to observe special procedural rules, including expedited timelines for filing motions and conducting discovery.
The Business Court has been established as a “pilot project” in Davidson County only. If it is deemed successful, then it may be established in other Tennessee counties. For the time being, qualifying cases must be litigated in Nashville.
Note, however, that the parties are not required to be located in Davidson County for the case to be heard by the Business Court. Moreover, qualifying cases that are filed in other Tennessee counties may be transferred to the Business Court by filing a Request for Designation to the Business Court within sixty (60) days of service of the complaint.
For more detailed information about the new Tennessee Business Court, or to see if your case meets the criteria for being litigated in new the Business Court, you may visit http://www.tsc.state.tn.us/bizcourt, or please feel free to call one of our business and commercial law attorneys right here in Knoxville, TN.