Back in Business: The Business Court Division Reopens in the Ninth Judicial Circuit
Lindy K. Keown, Esq.
Business Law Committee // The Briefs, November 2019, Vol. 87 No. 9
Central Florida business litigators have reason to celebrate this fall with the reopening of the Ninth Judicial Circuit’s business court division.
Due to lack of judicial resources and demanding dockets, the business court was previously dissolved in 2018 – much to the dismay of litigators and businesses alike. Thanks to the continued efforts of former Ninth Judicial Circuit Chief Judge Frederick Lauten, current Chief Judge Donald Myers, Jr., Senator David Simmons, and the Central Florida community, the Florida legislature agreed to add one more circuit judge to the Ninth Judicial Circuit during this past legislative session. With this addition, resources were freed up to reopen the business court division.
Then and Now – Key Changes within the Business Court
With the reopening of the business court, there are a few key changes litigators should look out for.
First and foremost, there is a new judge at the helm. Judge Dan Traver was assigned to serve as the business court judge by Chief Judge Donald Myers, Jr. Judge Traver was appointed to the bench in 2014. Prior to his appointment to the bench, Judge Traver clerked for Judge G. Kendall Sharp in the Middle District of Florida and spent nearly a decade practicing complex commercial litigation in both state and federal court.
The second big change coming to the business court is location related. The Orange County courthouse in downtown Orlando, where the business court was previously located, is at capacity until additional floors are built out (construction that will likely run through 2022). Until then, the business court division will operate out of the Thomas S. Kirk Juvenile Justice Center, at 2000 East Michigan Street, Orlando, Florida.
On the Docket – What Cases Will the Business Court Hear?
As the division begins to operate, current cases that fit within the business court’s jurisdiction have been identified by the judges who now preside over them and will be reassigned to Judge Traver. The business court is designed to hear the following jury, nonjury, injunction, and class action cases that involve amounts in controversy of $500,000 or more:
- U.C.C.-related transactions;
- Purchases and sales of businesses or business assets, including contract disputes and business torts;
- Actions related to the sale of goods or services by or to business enterprises;
- Actions related to non-consumer bank or brokerage accounts, including loan, deposit, cash management, and investment accounts;
- Purchase or sale of commercial real or personal property, or security interests therein;
- Surety bonds;
- Franchisee/franchisor relationships and liabilities;
- Malpractice claims of non-medical professionals in connection with rendering services to a business enterprise;
- Insurance coverage disputes, bad faith suits, and third-party indemnity actions against insurers arising under policies issued to businesses; and
- Other complex disputes of a commercial nature, including commercial foreclosure and landlord/tenant disputes with complicated factual or legal issues.
Additionally, the court may hear the following types of cases regardless of the amount in controversy:
- Actions related to the internal affairs or governance, dissolution, or liquidation rights and obligations between or among owners, or liability or indemnity of managers of corporations, partnerships, limited partnerships, limited liability companies, or other business enterprises;
- Actions relating to trade secrets and non-compete agreements;
- Intellectual property claims;
- Actions relating to securities or relating to or arising under the state securities laws or antitrust statutes;
- Shareholder-derivative actions and class actions involving claims that are subject to business court; and
- Actions relating to corporate trust affairs or director and officer liability.
Looking to the Future – Continued Focus on Judicial Resources is Key
Once the newly established business court is in full swing, it is expected that Judge Traver will manage up to 300 complex commercial cases.
As we look to the future, Central Florida litigators and businesses should remain vigilant in advocating for the judicial resources our community desperately needs in order to avoid the pitfalls of overloaded dockets – namely, lack of hearing time and lack of timely resolution for our clients. We must continue to speak with our representatives about the ever-increasing needs for judicial funding in our community in order to continue to enjoy the benefits of our newly reestablished business court.
Lindy K. Keown, Esq., is an associate attorney at Rumberger, Kirk & Caldwell P.A. She can be reached at email@example.com. She has been a member of the OCBA since 2015.