eDiscovery Daily Blog

Changes to Federal eDiscovery Rules Could Be Coming Within a Year – eDiscovery Trends

As reported by Henry Kelston in Law Technology News (Are We on the Cusp of Major Changes to E-Discovery Rules?), another major set of amendments to the discovery provisions of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure is getting closer and could be adopted within the year.  The United States Courts’ Advisory Committee on Civil Rules voted last week to send a slate of proposed amendments up the rulemaking chain, to its Standing Committee on Rules of Practice and Procedure, with a recommendation that the proposals be approved for publication and public comment later this year.

Potential Revisions that Have Impact to Discovery Include:

  • Rule 26: Changes incorporate a limitation to the general scope of discovery allowed by Rule 26(b)(1) as to what is proportional to the needs of the case, measured by the cost-benefit calculus now required by Rule 26(b)(2)(C)(iii) that is currently used most often when a party moves to limit discovery.
  • Rules 30 and 31: Changes reduce the number of depositions (oral and written) allowed per side, from 10 to 5, and reduce the time limit for each deposition, from 7 hours to 6 hours.
  • Rule 33: Changes reduce the number of interrogatories permitted, from 25 to 15.
  • Rule 34: Amendment requires that objections to document requests be stated with specificity and include a statement as to whether any responsive materials are being withheld on the basis of the objection.
  • Rule 36: Implements a new limit of 25 requests for admission for each party, with requests to admit the genuineness of documents expressly exempted from the limit of 25.
  • Rule 37: The proposed amendment in Rule 37(e) is intended to create a uniform national standard regarding the level of culpability required to justify severe sanctions for spoliation, establishing a non-sanction category of measures a court may impose when it finds that a party failed to meet its preservation obligation, such as allowing additional discovery, requiring a party to recreate or obtain the information it lost, or ordering a party to pay reasonable expenses resulting from the loss of information.  Rule 37(b)(2)(A) includes a “hotly debated” amendment that the court may impose sanctions or order an adverse jury instruction only if it finds that the failure to preserve caused “substantial prejudice” in the litigation and was “willful or in bad faith,” or that the failure to preserve “irreparably deprived a party of any meaningful opportunity” to litigate the claims in the action.

The proposed changes to Rule 37, in particular, appear to give producing parties more latitude when failing to meet their preservation obligation was not willful or in bad faith.  As the article notes, “if the standing committee approves the proposed amendments for publication at its meeting in early June, the amendments would be published for public comment soon thereafter. The public comment period for proposed rules normally lasts six months. The advisory committee, anticipating a high level of public interest in the proposals, plans to hold several days of public hearings in different cities around the U.S., with dates and locations yet to be announced.”

So, what do you think?  Are you pleased or concerned with the proposed amendments?  Please share any comments you might have or if you’d like to know more about a particular topic.

Disclaimer: The views represented herein are exclusively the views of the author, and do not necessarily represent the views held by CloudNine Discovery. eDiscoveryDaily is made available by CloudNine Discovery solely for educational purposes to provide general information about general eDiscovery principles and not to provide specific legal advice applicable to any particular circumstance. eDiscoveryDaily should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a lawyer you have retained and who has agreed to represent you.