The Court of Common Pleas in Montgomery County, PA is implementing a new local rule regarding all civil actions filed in the county (Montgomery County Local Rule of Civil Procedure 200). Beginning January 1, 2016, the court will transition from a system once driven by the attorneys handling a case to a system driven by deadlines set forth by the court.
In the past, civil cases such as injury claims from slip & falls or car accidents were permitted to resolve or reach trial at a time determined wholly by the attorneys representing the parties. It was not unheard of for such cases to take 3 years or more to become trial ready. Other cases involving more complicated issues like commercial contracts and other lengthy agreements had the potential of taking even longer to finish.
As directed by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, all local jurisdictions must develop a plan that will prevent a large or long-term backlog in cases on a court’s docket. Under the Montgomery County plan, attorneys will still be directing the case until the 9 month or 18 month anniversary of the filing date. For cases below the arbitration cut-off amount of $50,000, the 9 month deadline will apply. For matters involving sums above the arbitration amount, the 18 month deadline will apply. Attorneys handling such matters must be prepared to arbitrate/try the case by the appropriate deadline. In the event one side or the other is unprepared to do so, the court will impose a strict case management order providing up to 120 additional days to have the matter ready for judicial action.
What does this mean for you? It means that if you are involved in a civil case in Montgomery County, deadlines are automatically imposed to ensure your case proceeds in a timely manner. For those hesitant to file an action because of concerns over timeliness in having their civil case heard, this is good news.
The attorneys at Howland Hess O’Connell are readily prepared to meet the court’s new program and look forward to prompt dispositions of any civil matters moving forward.
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