When incorporating a business, many entrepreneurs end up choosing to incorporate in Delaware, based in part because of favorable corporate statues and immense business case law. Uniquely though, Indiana has been making strides in competing with Delaware on this issue. For example, many statutes pertaining to corporate entities and their structure are similar to those of Delaware. See Ind. Code Title 23. Further, the Indiana Supreme Court on January 20, 2016, issued an Order to implement the Indiana Commercial Court Pilot Project.
This pilot project started over a year ago last January when Indiana Chief Justice Loretta Rush in her first State of the Judiciary address mentioned how this project would “promote an attractive, predictable and consistent climate for doing business in Indiana.” In fact, more than 23 other states including the neighboring ones like Illinois, Michigan, and Ohio have already implemented similar business or commercial courts to handle complex disputes. Id.
The pilot project will begin on June 1, 2016, and will last for at least three years. The implementation of the commercial courts serves several purposes including (1) establishing judicial structure aimed at improving court efficiency, (2) resolving commercial disputes with expertise, technology, and efficiency, (3) enhancing accuracy, consistency, and the predictability in commercial cases, (4) enhancing economic and commercial development in Indiana, and (5) employing electronic information technologies with resolving commercial disputes, and encouraging early alternative dispute resolution interventions. The creation of these specialized courts will greatly enhance the experience and expertise in litigation over commercial disputes and help clarify the law, which will hopefully attract more economic development in Indiana.
There will be six commercial courts handling specialized dockets of business cases spread across the state in Allen, Elkhart, Vanderburgh, Floyd, Lake, and Marion County. Judge Craig Bobay who currently presides over the Allen County Superior Court – Civil Division will preside over the Allen County Commercial Court. Judge Stephen Bowers will preside over the Elkhart County Commercial Court. Judge Richard D’Amour will preside over the Vanderburgh County Commercial Court, Judge Maria Granger over the Floyd County Commercial Court. Judge John Sedia will preside over the Lake County Commercial Court and Judge Heather Welch over the Marion County Commercial Court.
The Indiana Commercial Court Working Group, which is comprised of 19-members including judges, attorneys, and legislators, established by the Indiana Supreme Court’s Order will continue to provide guidance throughout this pilot project. The Working Group will provide to the courts biannual reports and guidelines addressing issues such as case eligibility, assignment, transfer, caseload and workload, commercial court masters, publication of commercial court orders and statistics, and other relevant commercial matters.
One issue that has yet to be addressed that could impede the Commercial Court’s ability to decide cases in a more consistent and predictable manner is the prohibition under Indiana Appellate Rule 65(D) of state trial court decisions from being cited to any other Indiana court. See Indiana Dep’t of Nat. Res. V. United Minerals, Inc., 686 N.E.2d 851, 857 n.1 (Ind. Ct. App. 1997). While decisions of trial courts should not be binding on other trial courts, they should at least be able to be cited to, as they are able to in states like Massachusetts and Delaware. Id. By allowing citation to the trial court decisions it will increase consistency among the commercial courts and any other court that may seek their specialized guidance.
It will be interesting to see how the commercial courts develop over this three year term and how litigants utilize these courts. If these commercial courts find success in handling these complex business disputes, then maybe the Indiana Supreme Court could extend this pilot project or implement permanently. Either way it is an exciting time in Indiana for commercial litigants, entities, and prospective entities possibly considering incorporating in Indiana.
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 Stafford, Dave. “Rush Rolls out Commercial Court Plan in State of Judiciary.” The Indiana Lawyer, 28 Jan. 2015. Web. 11 Feb. 2016. <http://www.theindianalawyer.com/rush-rolls-out-commercial-court-plan-touts-e-filing-in-state-of-judiciary/PARAMS/article/36208>.
 Flora, Colin E. “In-Box: Commercial Courts.” The Indiana Lawyer, 10 Feb. 2016. Web. 11 Feb. 2016. <http://www.theindianalawyer.com/in-box-commercial-courts/PARAMS/article/39438>.