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Justice says business court ‘up and running’

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- A large group of attorneys gathered Tuesday at the Charleston Marriott to learn about the state's new business court.

Supreme Court Justice Robin Davis told them the business court program is "up and running."

"We are prepared and anxious to receive cases," Davis said.

The first case transferred is a Kanawha County lawsuit originally docketed to be heard by Judge Duke Bloom — Casto Technical v. Omega. Now it will be heard and decided by a business court judge.

Justice Menis Ketchum, in his order transferring the case, said "specialized treatment is likely to improve the expectation of a fair and reasonable resolution of the controversy..."   

A tax dispute between United Hospital in Clarksburg and the Harrison County assessor was determined not to be complex enough to warrant a move to business court. The request to transfer it was denied and it will remain in the circuit court of that county.

Attorneys assembled in Charleston this week were able to learn more about the kinds of cases appropriate for business court. Criminal or domestic cases, and those pertaining to consumer issues or malpractice won't qualify.

But lawsuits concerning commercial issues and disputes between businesses will be considered for removal from their current circuit court. The state has been divided into seven districts for the purpose of business court, and appointed judges will travel to the counties where cases originate.

Speaking to the lawyers, in addition to Davis, were Chief Business Court Judge Christopher Wilkes and Judges James Young, James Rowe and Donald Cookman.

Wilkes said, "Business court can undertake the trials of these cases and speed resolution."

Davis said the Supreme Court would appoint more judges if the caseload requires it.

"As we move along with this process, we may need to appoint more circuit court judges, but bring it on. We're ready," she said.

Business court judges appointed will be circuit court judges with special training and interest in complex commercial cases. They may also be retired, senior status judges.

"The Supreme Court is totally behind this," she said. "Everybody, including circuit judges, has bought into this."

The goal of a business court is to remove complex commercial cases into another forum, freeing the circuit court dockets to handle other cases more quickly. Across the county, business courts are a trend in moving a growing number of lawsuits into separate, specialized systems.

The Supreme Court began accepting transfer requests to business court in October.

Contact writer Cheryl Caswell at or 304-348-4832.




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