Complex Litigation Docket For Business Disputes In Connecticut

The Complex Litigation Docket or “CLD” is a special session of the Connecticut Superior Court  designed to accommodate the needs of complex cases.  The Judicial Branch published a fact sheet about the CLD.   Here is a summary of the CLD facts:

  • Designed for cases with intricate legal issues, multiple parties, or significant damages;
  • A single judge is assigned over all aspects of the case, similar to federal court;
  • Assignment of hearing dates for motions instead of the standard "short calendar" sessions;
  • Judges and court officers fully supported by staff with newer technology; and
  • Enhanced use of court-annexed mediation, include special masters.

Any party, or a judge, may request a transfer of a case from the regular Superior Court docket to the CLD.  A request is made by filling out and submitting an application.  Any objection must be filed within 15 days.  The Chief Administrative Judge of the Civil Division handles the request, and a hearing may be held to determine if referral to the CLD is appropriate.  The determination for placement on the CLD is made by an evaluation of several factors listed on the fact sheet.

For many business dispute or commercial cases, the CLD may be an appropriate venue rather than the regular docket.   The CLD is more akin to the federal court.  The benefits of a single judge assignment can be significant as it reduces delays in discovery and motion practice.  The CLD judges have standing orders designed to streamline the process.  Each case is also assigned a court officer who remains involved in the scheduling and administrative process.  In this way, cases are actively managed. 

The CLD also affords an opportunity to change venue in a case.  If your case is in a venue that you deem unfavorable to your case or client, one of three CLD venues (Hartford, Stamford, Waterbury) may be preferable.  You can request a particular venue when applying for the CLD, but there is no certainty that the request for a specific location will be granted.  Nevertheless, any one of the three venues may be preferable to others venues.

Although there are many upsides to the CLD, there are some reasons to stay on the regular docket.  For example, trial dates on the CLD are currently being scheduled 2 to 3 years out from assignment.  Although CLD trial dates are less likely to be continued than dates on the regular docket, CLD cases can take longer to arrive at resolution, especially if trial is necessary.   Also, there can be some gamesmanship involved with referrals to the CLD.  I have seen litigants applying to the CLD simply to delay the proceedings on the regular docket.  There is also a $325.00 fee for the docket.

In most significant business disputes or commercial litigation cases, the advantages available on the CLD, such as the single judge assignment,  may make the CLD the preferable venue.