3-25-2020 Client Alert -COVID-19 Litigation Update
Posted on March 26, 2020
COVID-19 Litigation Update
With the increasing public health emergency caused by the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, New York’s Governor, Andrew Cuomo, and the courts have adopted orders and rules that seek to balance the need to resolve important and essential disputes with the suggested social distancing protocols. The Litigation Team at Woods Oviatt Gilman is adjusting to this rapidly unfolding COVID-19 epidemic and proactively working to advance our clients' interests despite these challenging times. While the circumstances are in flux, below is an update on these rules and the current impact on pending and contemplated litigation.
On Friday March 20th, Governor Cuomo issued an executive order providing, among other things, that "any specific time limit for the commencement, filing, or service of any legal action, notice, motion, or other process or proceeding, as prescribed by the procedural laws of the state" is tolled until April 19, 2020. Consequently, statutory and procedural deadlines will be extended.
In light of the Governor's order, on March 22nd the Chief Administrative Judge of the Court issued an Administrative Order providing that, "effective immediately and until further order, no papers shall be accepted for filing by a county clerk or a court in any matter" except certain matters deemed "essential." The order does not address discovery in pending matters, which is largely governed by agreements between the parties, and for the most part can proceed. We also anticipate that litigants will rely more heavily on technology for traditionally in-person functions, such as conducting depositions by video, to continue to marshal their case while social distancing protocols remain in place.
Additionally, most courts have imposed restrictions on courthouse access and visitation, adjourned in-person hearings or rescheduled them to proceed telephonically, extended deadlines, or a combination of the foregoing. At present, the following changes have been implemented in local courts:
· The Chief Administrative Judge of the State of New York directed that all trials that have not already commenced be postponed until further notice, and advised that only “essential matters” such as mental hygiene applications, civil commitments, and guardianships, will be handled.
· The 7th and 8th Judicial Districts, which cover Cayuga, Livingston, Monroe, Ontario, Seneca, Steuben, Wayne, Yates, Allegany, Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Erie, Genesee, Niagara, Orleans and Wyoming counties, issued their own orders imposing (until further notice) the following restrictions: no eviction orders will be signed, no default judgments will be granted, no foreclosure auctions will be held, and all “non-essential” Supreme Civil, Surrogate’s, Family, City, and Town/Village Court matters are adjourned until or after April 30, 2020.
· The New York Appellate Division, the State's interim appellate Court, has adjourned all matters scheduled for the May 2020 term until further notice, suspended all deadlines for filing and perfecting appeals, and advised that the Court will entertain only emergency applications.
· On the federal court level, the Chief Judge for the United States District Court for the Western District of New York issued an Order adjourning all civil jury trials and grand jury selections for sixty (60) days and requesting that the judges reduce personal appearances in court as much as practicable.
In addition to these overarching directives, individual judges generally have discretion to manage their own dockets, and have or likely will make further amendments to case management schedules as the need arises.
For most civil cases, the consequences of these changes will be extensions of normal deadlines, delayed rulings otherwise expected over the coming months, diminished access to courts and a pause on new filings in non-exigent matters. However, the typical lifespan of a lawsuit takes many months, if not years. Much of the litigation process is or can be accomplished outside the courtroom and without person-to-person contact, and we at Woods Oviatt are continuing to advance our clients' litigation objectives and helping them navigate commercial consequences they are experiencing as a direct result of the coronavirus response.
To the extent you have questions about the status of your case, are anticipating a new dispute, or have business and affairs being impacted by the coronavirus response, please don't hesitate to contact our attorneys.
For more information regarding Coronovirus (COVID-19) or to access all of our client alerts go to:
Please contact your Woods Oviatt attorney or the following attorneys regarding COVID-19 related issues:
COVID-19 Multidisciplinary Crisis Group Co-Leaders
Gordon E. Forth, Esq.
Chris R. Rodi, Esq.
Cell: 585- 472-6474
Government Business Regulations
John F. Liebschutz, Esq.
Employment and Labor
Gordon S. Dickens, Esq.
Lorisa D. LaRocca, Esq.
Donald (Dan) O’Brien, Esq.
Gregory G. Broikos, Esq.
Christopher R. Rodi, Esq.
Cell: 585- 472-6474
Katarina B. Polozie, Esq.
Liquidity - Capital Calls
Christian J. Henrich, Esq.
Liquidity - Credit Facilities
W. Stephen Tierney, Esq.
William F. Savino, Esq.
Litigation and Disputes
Warren B. Rosenbaum, Esq.
Brian D. Gwitt, Esq.
Brian J. Capitummino, Esq.
Kristopher J. Vurraro, Esq.
Benjamin M. Keller, Esq.
Thomas M. DiPiazza, Jr., Esq.
Danielle B. Ridgely, Esq.
Family Wealth and Estate Planning
Philip L. Burke, Esq.
David P. Shaffer, Esq.