Common Pleas Court Judges
Judge Hollie L. Gallagher
All counsel are required to be punctual and prepared. The court expects to move its docket quickly and efficiently with the goal of disposing of all cases within a year of filing. Pro se litigants are, by law, presumed to know the law and correct procedure (and must accept the results of their errors). The court sits as an impartial arbitrator. All litigants will be treated equally.
Case Management Conference
The staff attorney handles the case management conference, although the Judge is available as needed. Typically, case management conferences are conducted via a telephone conference call that is initiated by the court. At the case management conference, the parties should have access to their calendars and should be prepared to enter a binding case management order that will include: a fact discovery cut-off, expert report deadlines, a deadline for filing of dispositive motions, as well as a final pretrial and a trial date. The parties should not wait until the case management conference to begin discovery. Parties should notify the court of any anticipated difficulties pertaining to discovery and of the dollar amount in controversy. The party bearing the burden of proof on a particular issue will be required to produce their expert report at least 30 days before the party defending that issue. Parties should expect that, absent a conflict on the court’s docket, trial will go forward on the date scheduled. Parties should contact the staff attorney in the weeks preceding the final pretrial in order to notify the court of any potential trial conflicts.
Motions seeking default judgment should be filed within 14 days of the expiration of the defendant’s answer time. A hearing date will be set on all motions for default judgment. The moving party must provide notice of the default hearing date and time to defendant via regular and certified mail with return receipt requested. Both notices must be sent no later than 7 days prior to the hearing. The moving party must provide the court with proof of timely service, and shall provide an affidavit of damages. A proposed judgment entry should also be provided to the court.
Motions for Summary Judgment
If any party anticipates filing a motion for summary judgment, a briefing schedule will be incorporated into the case management order. The parties can expect a ruling on the motion for summary judgment prior to their final pretrial. In any instance where the court is unable to rule before the final pretrial, the court may, upon motion by a party continue the trial date for at least 60 days. At the request of either party, the court may schedule and conduct an oral argument on a pending motion for summary judgment. The time parameters for argument shall be set by the judge assigned to the case. Oral arguments shall take place on the record in open court.
Generally, the final pretrial is treated as a settlement conference and the court will only schedule one prior to the trial date. Parties with full settlement authority must appear in court for the final pretrial. Participation by telephone is not permitted. The court may, 1) after notice being provided, dismiss an action without prejudice for want of prosecution upon failure of plaintiff and/or plaintiff's counsel to appear in person at the final pretrial, or 2) after notice being provided, order the plaintiff to proceed with the case and decide all matters ex parte upon failure of the defendant to appear in person or by counsel at the final pretrial.
Plaintiff shall communicate a demand to the defendant at least 14 days prior to the final pretrial conference. At the final pretrial, counsel should be prepared to provide the court with their assessment of the case and to report the status of settlement negotiations. All parties are expected to negotiate in good faith.
The court’s schedule may prevent the judge from personally conducting the final pretrial, in which case the final pretrial will be facilitated by the judge’s judicial staff attorney. If the parties believe it is necessary for the assigned judge to personally conduct the final pretrial, the parties are directed to contact the staff attorney at least 24 in advance to submit their request. In any instance where the judge has a conflict, the court will reschedule the final pretrial in order to allow the judge to preside in person.
If all parties (or certain parties) agree to a motion, such agreement shall be reflected in the caption. Pursuant to local rule, briefs in opposition to any motion should be filed within 7 days. Absent good cause, reply briefs are not permitted. (This does not apply to motions for summary judgment.) Please provide the court with a hard copy of any filing that exceeds 10 pages in length. Parties must serve copies of all filings upon the opposing party via email.
The court permits 90 to 120 days for fact discovery, depending on the complexity of the case.
Parties must contact the court's staff attorney prior to filing a motion to compel. Parties may request a status conference with the court to resolve discovery disputes at any time. All reasonable efforts to settle discovery disputes shall be made before the filing of a motion to compel. Parties will be provided with a full opportunity to make a record of any perceived discovery violations.
If the parties are in agreement, the court will entertain a joint motion for referral to the court’s alternative dispute resolution department for mediation or arbitration. Such a motion should be filed with the clerk as early in the pendency of the case as is practicable.
If the parties believe that a separate settlement conference will be beneficial, at the parties' request, the court will add a conference to its case management schedule. Parties may request a settlement conference at any time. Parties with full settlement authority must appear in court for any settlement conference. Participation by telephone is not permitted. At the settlement conference, the court will not play the role of a traditional mediator. All parties are expected to negotiate in good faith.
Calendaring and Continuances
Requests to extend case management deadlines must be made by motion. A first continuance of a trial date will be granted upon a motion (without good cause). Any additional or last minute continuances will not be granted. The court’s staff attorney will address scheduling conflicts, filing deadlines, and discovery disputes.
Parties must file any pretrial motions, including motions in limine, at least 10 days prior to trial. Briefs in opposition are due 7 days later and at least 3 days prior to trial. Untimely motions will not be considered.
Parties must file agreed jury instructions, agreed jury interrogatories and verdict forms, and an agreed statement of the facts for voir dire no later than 10 days prior to trial. Any objections to the joint jury instructions must be submitted, in writing and with authority.
All objections to videotape/deposition testimony must be presented 10 days prior to trial with a copy of the transcripts and videotape.
Trial briefs with witness and exhibit lists may be filed 7 days prior to trial. Counsel may show exhibits by blow-up or overhead projector.
Please provide the court with a hard copy of any filing that exceeds 10 pages in length.
Jurors may be allowed to take notes. The court does not impose an arbitrary time limit on voir dire, opening statement, or closing arguments, however, parties are expected to be concise.