Common Pleas Court Judges
Judge Andrew J. Santoli
Assistant Prosecuting Attorney-Major Trial Unit, Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office (2007-2020)
Civil Litigation Attorney, Schraff Thomas Law, LLC
THE COURTROOM IS A PLACE OF RESPECT. All individuals appearing in Court are to treat all other individuals in Court with respect without regard to race, gender, religion, national origin, disability, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, or socioeconomic status. The objective of the Court is to ensure that parties have timely access to the judicial system. The Court takes a "hands on" approach and will make itself available to the parties at the earliest opportunity.
CIVIL CASE MANAGEMENT ORDER
In accordance with Civ.R. 26(F), the attorneys shall confer prior to a scheduled Case Management Conference (“CMC”) to discuss claims and possible defenses, the possibilities for resolving and/or settling the case, create a discovery plan, and establish a proposed case schedule. The parties shall file their proposed discovery plan in accordance with Civ.R. 26(F)(3) seven (7) days prior to the CMC. During the CMC, the Court will review the parties’ proposed discovery plan and make any amendments it deems appropriate. Generally, the Court will allow between 90-120 days for full discovery to be completed, depending on the complexity of the case. During the CMC, the Court will also establish dates for the discovery deadline, expert report(s), dispositive motions, final pretrial and trial. Where applicable, the Court will refer cases for mediation or arbitration based upon the recommendations of the parties.
Continuances and extensions may be granted only for good cause shown. Extensions of court-ordered deadlines may be requested by motion, preferably in the form of a joint or unopposed motion. Prior to filing a motion seeking an extension, you are required to consult with your opposing counsel and state in your motion your opposing counsel's position on the extension request.
In the event that an attorney of record moves to withdraw as counsel for a party, the Court will typically grant such a motion upon the filing of a notice of appearance of new counsel for that party. However, the new counsel of record is expected to comply with the Court’s existing case management order and withdrawal of counsel, by itself, is insufficient to warrant a continuance of these established dates.
Upon filing of a motion for default judgment, the Court will schedule a default hearing. The movant must bring to the hearing the following: affidavit of damages, a prepared journal entry, and a copy of the letter sent regular and certified mail 7 days prior to the hearing date notifying all parties of the hearing and that failure to appear will result in judgment against them. The Court may require additional evidence/testimony that it deems necessary pursuant to Civ. R. 55.
Final Pretrial - Civil Settlement Conferences
All parties with full settlement authority and their counsel, including out-of-town parties or adjusters, must be present in person at the final pretrial to engage in settlement negotiations with the Court.
The failure to bring a representative with full, final, and immediate settlement authority shall constitute a violation of this standing order and will result in sanctions including, but not limited to, an award of costs and attorney fees incurred by the other parties in connection with the conference, as well as other appropriate sanctions against the non-complying party and/or counsel.
The parties are encouraged to settle any discovery dispute amongst themselves before filling a motion with the court (motions to compel, motions for a protective order, etc.)
When a motion is filed, counsel is required to provide the Court with a courtesy copy of the motion. If requested, the Court will hear oral arguments on the merits of the motion. Otherwise, the Court will schedule oral hearings as it sees fit.
Motions in Limine must be in writing and filed ten (10) days before trial. A brief in opposition is due seven (7) days after the motion in limine is filed, but no later than three days prior to trial.
Untimely motions and/or briefs may be stricken by the Court.
In the event that a case has settled, the parties are to notify the Court as soon as practicable after a settlement agreement has been reached. The parties are to submit a joint Notice of Dismissal indicating which party will bear the court costs of the action within 30 days of the settlement agreement.
All parties are required to serve and file a trial brief which shall contain: a succinct statement of their claims (as presented in the pleadings); a brief statement of the essential and material facts; the legal issues involved; the stipulations agreed upon by the parties; the type and amount of damages they are seeking; and an estimate of how long it will take to put on their case in chief. Trial briefs shall be delivered seven (7) days before trial.
Witness and Exhibit Lists
The parties shall exchange, serve, and file witness lists which shall include the witnesses' names and a very brief statement outlining the substance of each witness' expected testimony. The parties shall exchange, serve, and file a list of trial exhibits. Trial exhibits shall be pre-marked with exhibit stickers and exchanged. Plaintiffs shall mark their exhibits using numbers; defendants shall mark their exhibits using letters. The parties are required to provide the court with a copy of all of the above items seven (7) days before trial.
Jury Instructions, Interrogatories, Verdict Forms
Counsel shall provide jury instructions that conform to OJI or cite to published Ohio cases. Counsel shall provide jury instructions that are relevant to the specific issues to be presented at trial. All instructions should be short, concise, understandable and neutral statements of law. The Court will not consider proposed jury instructions that are deemed argumentative or which otherwise do not conform to the above requirements. The parties must serve their proposed jury instructions, interrogatories, and verdict forms on each other at least fourteen (14) days before trial. The parties should then confer in order to agree on a single set of instructions to the extent possible. The joint proposed instructions (along with the proposed instructions upon which the parties have been unable to agree), interrogatories, and verdict forms must be filed with the court at least seven (7) days before trial. Further, counsel must file its objections, if any, to jury instructions, interrogatories, and verdict forms proposed by opposing counsel at least two (2) days before trial. In its objection, counsel shall highlight the objectionable language and include a concise argument as to why the proposed language is improper.
In addition to hard copies, proposed jury instructions, including the stipulated statement of the case, jury interrogatories, and verdict forms are to be provided to the Court in a Microsoft Word document via email sent to the court’s staff attorney.