Finally! Serious movement for discovery reform

by Walter Olson on December 18, 2013

“Microsoft is legally obligated to store an average of 60 million pages of documents for every lawsuit brought against it, even though only 88 of those will end up being used in court.” [Jacob Kastrenakes, The Verge] The company is one of many that has announced its support for a change in the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, proposed in August by the Committee on Rules of Practice and Procedure, which would narrow the scope of obligatory discovery. The burden of discovery “deters companies from defending themselves against meritless suits and slows the process of dispute resolution,” writes Jon Palmer, Microsoft’s assistant general counsel. The proposal would also lay forth clearer standards on document retention so as to curb proliferating litigation over charges of spoliation.

The Washington Legal Foundation likes the proposals too, as does James Beck at Drug and Device Law. Not happy about it: the litigation lobby and some Senate Democrats friendly to their cause. The Judicial Conference is holding hearings that are likely to be more balanced. Comments with the Advisory Committee are due by February 15, 2014.