Quentin Brogdon Reports on New Amendments to Federal Civil Procedure via Texas Lawyer

Attorney Quentin Brogdon, of Crain Lewis Brogdon, LLP, recently published an informative new article in Texas Lawyer entitled “New Amendments to Federal Civil Procedure Likely to Influence State Court Practice”. The following is a brief overview of some of the points he sets forth in this personal injury special report.

Beginning December 1 of last year, new changes to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure have shortened key deadlines, narrowed the scope of discovery, and relaxed the standards for e-discovery sanctions. These dramatic rule changes affect not just practice in federal court, but state court as well.

The most significant change to the rules is the elimination of the following phrase from rule 26(b):

“Relevant information need not be admissible at trial if the discovery appears reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence."

Now, discovery will hinge on a new concept of proportionality, meaning that the discovery must be proportional to the needs of the case. The following factors must be considered when determining proportionality:

  1. The importance of the issues at stake
  2. The amount in controversy
  3. The parties’ relative access to relevant information
  4. The parties’ resources
  5. The importance of the discovery in resolving the issues
  6. Whether the burden or expense of the proposed discovery outweighs its likely benefit

The purpose of these changes are as follows:

  • To encourage judges to be more aggressive in identifying and discouraging discovery overuse
  • To shorten early case management deadlines
  • To reduce gamesmanship and the prolific use of boilerplate objections in responding to document requests
  • To create a national standard for e-discovery sanctions with more forgiving preservation requirements for electronically stored information
  • To resolve a split in the circuits by rejecting adverse inference instructions for negligence or gross negligence in failing to preserve electronic discovery
  • To limit only adverse-inference instructions without limiting jury instructions that do not involve adverse inferences
  • To reduce delay, expense, and contentiousness in federal cases

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