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Rule 113.Assignment of Case(s) to a Single Judge

Rule 113.01Request for Assignment of a Single Case to a Single Judge

(a) In any case that the court or parties believe is likely to be complex, or where other reasons of efficiency or the interests of justice dictate, the chief judge of the district or the chief judge's designee may order that all pretrial and trial proceedings shall be heard before a single judge. The court may enter such an order at any time on its own initiative, in response to a suggestion in a party's civil cover sheet filed under Rule 104, or on the motion of any party, and shall enter such an order when the requirements of Rule 113.01(b) have been met. The motion shall comply with these rules and shall be supported by affidavit(s). In any case assigned to a single judge pursuant to this Rule that judge shall actively use enhanced judicial management techniques, including, but not limited to, the setting of a firm trial date, establishment of a discovery cut off date, and periodic case conferences.

(b) Grounds. Unless the court finds that court management of the claims and/or issues involved has become routine or that the interests of justice require otherwise, the court shall order that all pretrial and trial proceedings shall be heard before a single judge upon a showing that the action is likely to involve one or more of the following:

(1) numerous pretrial motions raising difficult or novel legal issues that will be time consuming to resolve;

(2) management of a large number of witnesses or substantial amount of documentary evidence;

(3) management of a large number of separately represented parties;

(4) the opportunity to coordinate with related actions pending in another court;

(5) substantial post-judgment judicial supervision.

(Added effective July 1, 1994; amended effective March 1, 2001; amended effective July 1, 2013.)

Rule 113.02Consolidation of Cases Within a Judicial District

A motion for assignment of two or more cases pending within a single judicial district to a single judge shall be made to the chief judge of the district in which the cases are pending, or the chief judge's designee.

(Added effective July 1, 1994; amended effective March 1, 2001.)

Rule 113.03Assignment of Cases in More Than One District to a Single Judge

(a) Assignment by Chief Justice. When two or more cases pending in more than one judicial district involve one or more common questions of fact or are otherwise related cases in which there is a special need for or desirability of central or coordinated judicial management, a motion by a party or a court's request for assignment of the cases to a single judge may be made to the chief justice of the Supreme Court.

(b) Procedure. The motion shall identify by court, case title, case number, and judge assigned, if any, each case for which assignment to a single judge is requested. The motion shall also indicate the extent to which the movant anticipates that additional related cases may be filed. The motion shall be filed with the clerk of appellate courts and shall be served on other counsel and any self-represented litigants in all cases for which assignment is requested and shall be served on the chief judge of each district in which such an action is pending. Any party may file and serve a response within 5 days after service of the motion. Any reply shall be filed and served within 2 days of service of the response. Except as otherwise provided in this rule, the motion and any response shall comply with the requirements of Minn. R. Civ. App. P. 127 and 132.02.

(c) Mechanics and Effect of Transfer. When such a motion is made, the chief justice may, after consultation with the chief judges of the affected districts and the state court administrator, assign the cases to a judge in one of the districts in which any of the cases is pending or in any other district. If the motion is to be granted, in selecting a judge the chief justice may consider, among other things, the scope of the cases and their possible impact on judicial resources, the availability of adequate judicial resources in the affected districts, and the ability, interests, training and experience of the available judges. As necessary, the chief justice may assign an alternate or back-up judge or judges to assist in the management and disposition of the cases. The assigned judge may refer any case to the chief judge of the district in which the case was pending for trial before a judge of that district selected by the chief judge.

(Added effective July 1, 1994; amended effective March 1, 2001; amended effective January 1, 2006; amended effective July 1, 2015.)

Advisory Committee Comment - 2000 Amendment

Rule 113.01 applies to assignment of a single case within a judicial district or county that does not already use a so-called block assignment system whereby cases are routinely assigned to the same judge for all pretrial and trial proceedings. Although parties can request a single-judge assignment in the informational statement under Rule 111, this rule contemplates a formal motion with facts presented supporting the request in the form of sworn testimony. The grounds for the motion in Rule 113.01(b) were derived from rules 1800-1811 of the California Special Rules for Trial Courts, Div. V, Complex Cases. If the court finds that management of the claims or issues has become routine, the matter would not rise to the level of requiring assignment to a single judge. A motion to certify a class, for example, might be routine in terms of court management. Once a class has been certified and the matter becomes a class action, however, the complexity may rise to the level that requires a single judge assignment. Under Rule 113.01(a), the motion is to be made to the chief judge (or his or her designee) of the district in which the case is pending.

Rule 113.02 recognizes that motions for consolidation of cases within a single judicial district may be heard by the chief judge of the district or his or her designee.

Rule 113.03 is new, and is intended merely to establish a formal procedure for requesting the chief justice to exercise the power to assign multiple cases in different districts to a single judge when the interests of justice dictate. The power to assign cases has been recognized by the Supreme Court in a few decisions over the past decade or so. See, e.g., In re Minnesota Vitamin Antitrust Litigation, 606 N.W.2d 446 (Minn. 2000); In re Minnesota Silicone Implant Litigation, 503 N.W.2d 472 (Minn. 1993); In re Minnesota L-tryptophan Litigation, No. C0-91-706 (Minn. Sup. Ct., Apr. 24, 1991); In re Minnesota Asbestos Litigation, No. C4-87-2406 (Minn. Sup. Ct., Dec. 15, 1987). The power is derived from the inherent power of the court and specific statutory recognition of that power in Minnesota Statutes 1998, sections 2.724 and 480.16. The rule is intended to establish a procedure for seeking consideration of transfer by the chief justice. The procedure contemplates notice to interested parties and consultation with the affected judges so that the sound administration of the cases is not compromised. Transfer of cases for coordinated pretrial proceedings is an established practice in the federal court system under 28 U.S.C. section 1407. Although this rule is not as complex as its federal counterpart, its purpose is largely the same - to facilitate the efficient and fair handling of multiple cases. Practice under the federal statute has worked well, and is one of the most important tools of complex case management in the federal courts. See generally DAVID F. HERR, MULTIDISTRICT LITIGATION: HANDLING CASES BEFORE THE JUDICIAL PANEL ON MULTIDISTRICT LITIGATION (1986 & Supp. 1996). A companion change is made to Minn. R. Civ. P. 63.03, making it clear that when a judge is assigned by order of the chief justice pursuant to this rule that the judge so appointed may not be removed peremptorily under Rule 63 or the statutory restatement of the removal power contained in Minnesota Statutes 1998, section 542.16.

Advisory Committee Comment - 2006 Amendment

The amendments to Rule 113.03 are intended to provide more detailed guidance about the procedures to be followed in seeking transfer of cases under the rule. The rule clarifies the existing practice and specifically incorporates the normal procedures for handling motions in the appellate courts. Because the motion is made to the chief justice rather than the entire court, fewer copies are necessary, but other procedures of Minn. R. Civ. App. P. 127 and 132.02 apply to these motions.

Advisory Committee Comment - 2015 Amendments

The amendments to Rule 113.03(b) are not substantive in nature or intended effect. The term "self-represented litigant" is being used uniformly throughout the judicial branch and is preferable to "non-represented party" and "pro se party," both to avoid a Latin phrase not used outside legal jargon and to facilitate the drafting of clearer rules. There is no need for multiple copies of this motion because it will be handled electronically even if filed in paper form, and because in cases where filings are required to be filed using the court's E-Filing System, only a single copy of a motion can be filed.

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