Every year, The Sedona Conference Institute keeps us ahead of the e-discovery curve with panels such as the famous Case Law Update and Judicial Roundtable. This year’s Institute will be devoted to the changes in the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and will include panels on the new Rules 26, 34 and 37(e). The new Rules are already generating significant case law, and there will be even more by the time we meet in San Diego on March 17-18. In the coming weeks, we will be posting brief summaries of some of these recent cases. For a more in-depth look at the new rules and how to retool your practice, register for The Sedona Conference Institute. Meanwhile, here’s a summary of Brown v. Dobler, No. 1:15-cv-00132, 2015 WL 9581414 (D. Idaho Dec. 29, 2015):
A district court in Idaho recently considered a pro se inmate’s motion to compel the production of documents by various defendants in Idaho’s corrections system. While pro se litigants inexperienced in litigation often run afoul of the Rules, this time the court found it was the represented defendants who had failed comply with their discovery obligations.
The court first established that, although the motion to compel had been filed prior the December 1, 2015 effective date of amended Federal Rules, it was the newly amended Rule 34 that governed the motion. The defendants had violated new Rule 34(b) by making boilerplate privilege and confidentiality objections without stating whether responsive materials were being withheld on the basis of those objections.
Further, although some of the plaintiff’s document requests were overly broad, the court specifically instructed the defendants to “use their judgment” to “respond to an overly broad request with information or documents that are relevant to Plaintiff’s claims.” The takeaway for responding parties is that, if any subset of documents responsive to a particular request is not subject to objection, a responding party should consider whether to produce the unobjectionable documents while working to narrow the request with the adversary.