Beginning as early as May 1, 2017, some district courts are participating in a three-year pilot project known as the “Mandatory Initial Discovery Pilot Project,” which is studying whether requiring parties in civil cases to respond to a series of standard discovery requests before undertaking other discovery reduces the cost and delay of civil litigation. In this pilot project, when making mandatory initial discovery responses parties are required to disclose both favorable and unfavorable information that is relevant to their claims or defenses regardless of whether they intend to use the information in their cases.
Participating district courts have adopted a Standing Order explaining the parties’ obligations under the pilot project and setting forth the initial discovery requests to which the parties must respond. All civil cases, except those categories of cases exempted by the Standing Order, are included in the pilot program and subject to the Standing Order.
These are some of the key requirements under the Standing Order:
- At the Rule 26(f) conference, parties must discuss the mandatory initial discovery listed in the Standing Order and describe their discussions (including limitations invoked and disputes) in their Rule 26(f) report.
- Parties must provide the requested information as to facts that are relevant to the parties’ claims and defenses, whether favorable or unfavorable, and regardless of whether they intend to use the information in presenting their claims and defenses.
- Parties must file answers, counterclaims, cross-claims, and replies within the time set forth in Rule 12(a)(1)–(3), even if they have filed or intend to file a motion to dismiss or other preliminary motion.
- Parties must serve their initial discovery responses by the deadlines described in the Standing Order unless modified by the court.
- Parties must address certain issues relating to electronically stored information (ESI) and produce ESI by the deadline set in the Standing Order.
- Pilot judges should hold initial case-management conferences within the time set in Rule 16(b)(2) and discuss the parties’ compliance with the mandatory discovery obligations.
Currently there are two courts participating in this pilot project:
- The District of Arizona (D. Ariz. General Order 17-08, effective May 1, 2017)
- The Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division (N.D. Ill. General Order 17-0005 and Standing Order, effective June 1, 2017)