Western District of Pennsylvania Pilot Program for Expedited Civil Litigation
The United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania has joined the Northern District of California in adopting an expedited program for civil cases. As the Pilot Program description notes, “[t]he perception that federal civil lawsuits always involve complex legal and factual issues is not accurate. There are many cases filed in federal court that are relatively simple and do not require lengthy and expensive pretrial and trial proceedings.” For those cases, the Western District of Pennsylvania now offers a voluntary Expedited Docket that includes initial disclosures within seven days of approval of the Stipulation designated the case as expedited, an Expedited Trial Conference after which the court will set a firm trial date, limited discovery to be completed within ninety days of the Expedited Trial Conference, and a trial no later than six months after the Expedited Trial Conference. Each side is limited to three hours to present evidence and, with few exceptions, the parties waive their right to appeal. Judge Cathy Bissoon, who spearheaded the pilot, recognizes this as “another option for litigants” in the Western District of Pennsylvania. “Our purpose is to offer parties in these types of cases abbreviated, efficient, and cost-effective litigation and trial.” The Pilot Program started on September 1, 2012.