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Article written by Attorney Kevin O'Flaherty
Updated on
August 10, 2020

In this article, we discuss accelerated lawsuit options in Iowa and answer the following questions:

  • What is Iowa’s Business Speciality Court?
  • What is Iowa’s fast track option for civil lawsuits?
  • What type of case is eligible for acceleration?
  • What are the benefits and drawbacks of an accelerated lawsuit option?

No one wants to find themself in a lawsuit, but should the situation arise, and the case is in Iowa, there are options that can shorten the duration of the legal proceedings and possibly save those involved some money.

What is Iowa’s Business Speciality Court?

As part of the effort to make Iowa’s justice system the best in the nation, the state began a pilot program in 2013 that created the Iowa Business Specialty Court. The business court was created to handle only complex business litigation with the aim of speeding up lengthy litigation processes and lowering costs for litigants and the court system. By creating a court that only handles business matters the judges and the parties involved in the cases can benefit from focused expertise in this field, and the Iowa court system can test new technology and fresh practice procedures that, if useful, can be applied to the rest of the Iowa court system.

In order to take advantage of the Iowa Business Specialty Court, parties must apply to transfer their case via two options: 

  1. Joint Consent: All parties agree to transfer the case.
  2. Motion To Transfer Case: Similar to other types of motions, either party can file the motion and it will be ruled on by the chief judge of the district court in which the case exists.

There is no time limit if all parties consent to transfer the case, but if filing a motion to transfer it must be done within 120 days of filing the petition.

What is Iowa’s Fast Track Option For Civil Lawsuits?

Started in 2015, Iowa implemented a fast track option for civil cases with less than $75,000 in damages. Either party can choose or apply for the fast track option. This option will see the case go to trial within a year of its filing with a greatly reduced discovery process, and a limitation of two days for the trial.

What Type of Case Is Eligible For Acceleration?

For the Business Specialty Court, cases must involve claims that have more than $200,000 in total compensatory damages and be seeking injunctive or declarative relief. The case must also fall under one of the following categories:

  • Arise from technology licensing contracts, any agreement involving licensing of intellectual property rights, including patent rights;
  • Relate to the internal affairs of a business, including issues that arise between the executives of a given company;
  • Involve claims of fraud, breach of contract, statutory violations, misrepresentation, etc;
  • Shareholder derivative or commercial class action;
  • Relate to non-compete, confidentiality agreements, and trade secret disputes;
  • Involve commercial bank transactions;
  • Involve business two claims between two or more businesses;
  • Involve commercial real estate property disputes other than that between landlord and tenant and foreclosures.

Iowa’s fast track litigation process mainly requires the case to involve less than $75,000 in damages.

What Are The Benefits and Drawbacks of An Accelerated Lawsuit Option?

The benefits of an accelerated lawsuit are pretty clear:

  • Reduced litigation process and time spent at trial;
  • Limits the potential for the other side to purposefully run up your litigation costs;
  • More efficient procedures and innovative technology; and
  • Frees up space in the court docket for other cases.

Any drawback to the Business Speciality Court of fast track litigation process would be had by a party seeking to extend the litigation process, run-up unnecessary costs, or delay the final ruling. All of these drawbacks only serve to encumber the court system in Iowa. If you have any questions about accelerating your claim in Iowa give us a call at 630-324-6666.

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