New York Courts dot gov
New York StateUnified Court System

Commencement of Cases


Concerning: Initial Filings  /  Index Numbers / Filing Procedures and Fees / RJI  /

Assignment of Cases / Commercial Division Assignments / Differentiated Case Management Tracks / Related Cases / Commencing Cases Under Seal or with Anonymous Caption

 

A. STARTING A CASE

Effective Feb. 27, 2012, all commercial, contract, and tort actions, without regard to the amount in controversy, must be commenced electronically, and all subsequent filings in those cases must be made electronically, through the New York State Courts Electronic Filing System ("NYSCEF"). See the E-Filing page for more information.

To commence an action or special proceeding, a summons and complaint or summons with notice in an action, or a petition in a special proceeding shall be filed with the County Clerk through NYSCEF or, in authorized hard copy cases, in Room 141B, 60 Centre Street. CPLR 304.  In a hard-copy case, the filing party obtains an index number by (i) completing an index number purchase sheet; and (ii) paying to the County Clerk's cashier a fee of $ 210 (absent a poor person order). All fees must be paid by cash, certified check (payable to the County Clerk), credit card (Visa, Mastercard, or American Express), or U.S. postal money order. In e-filed cases, an index number is obtained by filing commencement documents through NYSCEF, which will cause an index number to be transmitted back to the filer by e-mail. Filing fees must be paid through NYSCEF by Visa, Mastercard, or American Express credit or bank card. In hard-copy cases the checks of attorneys within New York State bearing "Attorney at Law" or "Esquire" and the attorney’s address and phone number will be accepted. Checks from outside New York must be certified. The County Clerk will issue a receipt, which the applicant will need to show when proceeding to court.

To make a filing that commences an authorized hard-copy case, the attorney must deliver the summons and complaint, summons with notice or petition to the County Clerk in Room 141B together with the index number fee.  At the time of filing, the original and a copy of these papers will be date stamped by the Clerk, who shall file the original and maintain a record of the date of filing and who shall immediately return the copy to the filing party.  CPLR 304.  In e-filed cases the documents are uploaded to NYSCEF and a notice will be sent electronically to the filer containing the index number.

When the matter commenced is an authorized hard-copy special proceeding or motion/action pursuant to CPLR 3213, the filing attorney should file original papers with the County Clerk and a duplicate original with the General Clerk's Office (Room 119).  David D. Siegel, New York Practice 96 (4th ed. 2005).

 

B. INDEX NUMBERS

The party commencing a case purchases an index number, at which time the County Clerk will open a County Clerk's file and create a color-coded file jacket bearing the index number assigned to the case. Papers subsequently presented for filing will be filed in this jacket. In e-filed cases, the file is an electronic one in the NYSCEF system. Index numbers take the form of six digits followed by a slash and the four digits of the year the case began, e.g., 340705/2008. The first or first two integers of the index number identify the type of case. If a general, tax certiorari, or commercial case is commenced electronically, the second integer will be a “5." The principal types of cases and their index number categories are as follows:

Case Type     Index Number Series
   
Supreme Court (General)                100,001 - 150,000
Supreme Court (E-Filing) 150,001 - 190,000
Supreme Court (Asbestos) 190,001 - 200,000
Tax Certiorari 200,001 - 250,000
Tax Certiorari (E-Filing) 250,001 - 300,000
Matrimonial (Uncontested) 300,001 - 350,000
Matrimonial (Contested) 350,001 - 400,000
No Fee 400,001 - 500,000
Article 81 500,001 - 510,000
Appellate Term 570,001 - 580,000
Third Party 590,001
Commercial   600,001 - 650,000
Commercial (E-Filing) 650,001 - 700,000

        

C. FILING AN RJI

The fee for filing a Request for Judicial Intervention (UCS 840, revised 2011) ("RJI") is paid in the County Clerk's cashier's office, Room 160 (cost $ 95). Click here for access to a "fillable" form of the RJI on-line. The filer of an RJI may seek an assignment only (e.g., so that a Justice might be available for rulings if difficulties were to arise during an impending deposition) or judicial action, principally with regard to a request for a preliminary conference; a motion on notice or petition and notice of petition; an order to show cause; or a note of issue (cost $ 30, $ 125 with RJI). Rule 202.6 of the Uniform Rules for the Trial Courts.

The filer of an RJI must check off a box identifying the case type, which will bring about a random assignment of the case by computer to a Justice handling cases of that type.

Various addenda to the RJI were issued in 2011. These are also accessible at the link above. The addenda that have been promulgated consist of a general addendum, which is used to identify additional parties or related cases; a matrimonial addendum, which is used when there are children under the age of 18 who are subject to the matrimonial action; a foreclosure addendum, which is used in mortgage foreclosure actions where the property is a one-to-four family owner-occupied residential property or an owner-occupied condominium; and a Commercial Division Addendum, which is used when the filer seeks an assignment of a case to the Commercial Division.

 

D. ASSIGNMENTS TO THE COMMERCIAL DIVISION

Attorneys who seek assignment of an action to the Commercial Division must submit an RJI marked to reflect that the case involved is a commercial one, together with a completed Commercial Division RJI Addendum (UCS 840C) certifying that the case meets the requirements of the Division set forth in Uniform Rule 202.70 (a), (b), and (c). Uniform Rule 202.70 (d). In a hard-copy case a copy of the pleadings shall be submitted as well. If the Commercial Division Addendum is not submitted, the clerk will assign the case at random to a non-Division Part.

The monetary threshold in the New York County Commercial Division, which is generally applicable, is an amount in controversy of $ 150,000 or more (exclusive of punitive damages, interest, costs, disbursements, and counsel fees). If the case is designated a commercial one and the Addendum is submitted, the clerk will review the pleadings to determine whether the amount in controversy in the case meets the monetary threshold or whether an exception to the threshold applies. There are two categories of exception. First, the threshold is not applicable and the case may be assigned to the Division if it seeks equitable or declaratory relief. Uniform Rule 202.70 (b). Second, the threshold is not applicable and the case may be assigned to the Division if the action is a shareholder derivative action or a commercial class action, seeks dissolution of a corporation or other business entity, or seeks to stay or compel arbitration or affirm or disaffirm an arbitration award or seeks related injunctive relief. Uniform Rule 202.70 (b) (4), (5), (11), (12). In this review the clerk will not consider whether the case is otherwise the type of matter eligible for assignment to the Division, as provided in Rule 202.70 (b) and (c), which shall be a question for the Division Justice. If the clerk’s review determines that the threshold is not met and the matter does not fall within one of the exceptions, the clerk will assign the case at random to a General Assignment Part. If the threshold is met or if an exception applies, the clerk will assign the case at random to a Commercial Division Justice, who will review the case to ensure that it is one that properly belongs in the Division as provided by Rule 202.70 (b) and (c). See Subd. (f) (1).

The rules provide for application to the Administrative Judge to review certain assignment determinations. Any such application must be made in a timely manner. Uniform Rule 202.70 (e) and (f) (2). Rulings of the Administrative Judge have been posted on the Commercial Division website (under “Decisions Online” on the New York County home page).

 

E. DCM TRACK ASSIGNMENT

Previously, the filer was required also to designate on the RJI a Differentiated Case Management ("DCM") track ("expedite", "standard" or "complex") (Rule 202.19 of the Uniform Rules for the Trial Courts). Such a designation is no longer required. Upon the filing of the RJI, however, each case will be assigned to a DCM track. The assignment will be made by the clerk in accordance with a protocol issued by the court, as follows.

The main tracks are: eight months - expedited; 12 months - standard; and 15 months - complex. The following cases will be assigned to the following tracks:

Commercial (Commercial Division and non-Division) - - Complex
Medical/Dental/Podiatric Malpractice - - Complex
Mass Torts - - Ultra-Complex (20 months)
Tax Certiorari - - Special time frame (48 months)
Matrimonial - - Special time frame (six months)
Motor Vehicle - - Expedited
All Other Cases - - Standard

Counsel may raise at the preliminary conference the question of whether a different track assignment should be made. If persuaded that the circumstances of the particular case are such that the case belongs on a shorter or longer track than the one to which the case was assigned in accordance with the foregoing protocol, the Justice may direct that the case be assigned by the clerk to another track, which will be done.

The DCM time frames or tracks constitute goals set by the Unified Court System for the expeditious processing of cases pre-note. (There is also a separate post-note standard and goal, generally of 15 months (in matrimonial cases the period is six months).) The pre-note standards and goals commence to run from the filing of the RJI. A note of issue should be filed within the pre-note DCM time frame recorded for the case (the track designation made pursuant to Uniform Rule 202.19) or else the case will be deemed out of compliance with standards and goals. The orders of the assigned Justice, however, will control when specific steps in the discovery process in any individual case must be completed. See Rule 202.19.

 

F. FILING REQUIREMENT FOR NEW RJI FORM

In 2011 the Unified Court System changed the procedures regarding the obligation to file an RJI. These are reflected in the new form of RJI. See also Uniform Rule 202.6 (b) (modified effective May 25, 2011 and Jan. 10, 2012). In sum, an RJI is now required to be filed with regard to most applications; in some instances, an RJI fee ($ 95) is required and in others the filing is to be without fee. Generally, an RJI must be filed and a fee must be paid whenever the nature of the application is such as to require that there be supervision and case management of a pending case by a Justice that will extend beyond addressing the papers submitted by the applicant and therefore that there be an ongoing assignment of the case to an IAS Justice made via the court’s computer system. Examples of instances of documents that will initiate continuing judicial involvement are notices of motion or petition, proposed orders to show cause, notes of issue, notices of medical, dental and podiatric malpractice action, statements of net worth, and requests for a preliminary conference. Where, on the other hand, the application being submitted is a discrete and self-contained one that will not require continuing involvement by an IAS Justice, the RJI shall be filed without fee and the matter shall not be assigned to a Justice, but rather shall generally be referred to an Ex Parte Justice. Any application not filed in an action or proceeding, a name change application, and an application for discovery in an out-of-state case are examples of discrete applications that now are to be filed accompanied by an RJI but for which no fee need be paid. Included in this group are uncontested matrimonial matters.

 

Other ex parte applications not requiring ongoing judicial assignment
New RJI Required (No Fee Payable) (No Ongoing Assignment of Justice)
Uncontested matrimonial application
Application not filed in an action or proceeding
Application for an order authorizing emergency surgery
Petition for sale or finance of religious/not-for-profit property
Name change application
Habeas corpus application
Application for discovery in out-of-state action (CPLR 3102 (e))
Other ex parte applications not requiring ongoing judicial assignment

 

New RJI Required with $ 95 Fee (Ongoing Assignment of IAS Justice)
Notice of motion or petition
Order to show cause
Note of issue
Notice of medical, dental or podiatric malpractice action
Statement of net worth
Request for preliminary conference
Other applications in a case to be assigned to an IAS Justice
Infant’s, incompetent’s, and wrongful death compromise orders (no action commenced)

 

G. RELATED CASES

In an effort to conserve judicial resources and avoid inconsistent rulings, the filing counsel must check off on the RJI whether a related case exists. If the new case is designated as related, it will automatically be assigned to the Justice who was assigned the earlier case provided that the latter has not already been disposed of. If the earlier case has been disposed of, the Clerk will assign the case at random; the filing attorney is, however, free to argue to the Justice to whom the case is assigned that the matter ought to be assigned to the Justice who had handled the earlier case due to considerations of judicial efficiency and the like.  If a party believes that such a related-case designation and resulting assignment were made in error, or that the filing party incorrectly failed to designate the case as related, the issue should be raised before the assigned Justice, who may send the matter to the back office for a random reassignment or a transfer if the complaint is justified. If further review is required, it occurs before the Administrative Judge. The policy of the court is that one Justice may not order the transfer of a case directly to another particular Justice except (i) pursuant to procedures governing related cases or (ii) in the case of motions to reargue or renew (CPLR 2221) or (iii) with the permission of the Administrative Judge.

 

H. ASSIGNMENT OF CASES

It may happen that an RJI has been filed but has not yet been processed and another party to the case may wish to bring on an order to show cause immediately. In most instances the County Clerk's computer will show whether an RJI has been purchased. So will the Supreme Court Records On-Line Library ("Scroll"), the case data and document repository available on this website (under Case Information).  The office that receives the proposed order to show cause will try to locate the pending RJI in the other back office and cause it immediately to be processed by that other office so that the case can be assigned to a Justice to whom the order to show cause may be referred; or the receiving office will seek from the party presenting the order to show cause a copy of the RJI, which should have been served upon that party. This will permit the back office handling the proposed order to show cause to ascertain that an RJI has indeed been filed (though not yet processed) and to assign the case in accordance with the designations on the RJI. The party who first filed the RJI has the right to have the case processed in accordance with the designation made on the RJI by that party. If, in the view of another party, the RJI has not properly been completed, that party may raise this issue with the assigned Justice. Clerks cannot alter the RJI as filed nor can they direct another attorney to do so.

 

I.  ANONYMOUS CAPTIONS/FILING UNDER SEAL

A party may sometimes wish to obtain an order permitting a case to proceed under an anonymous caption, or to file initiating papers under seal pending a ruling by a Justice.  For information, click here

 

June 2013