Federal Magistrate Judge Issues "Discovery Wake-Up Call"

In Fischer v. Forrest, Case No. 1:14-cv-01307-PAE-AJP (S.D.N.Y. Feb. 28, 2017), a magistrate judge in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, sounded a "discovery wake-up call ..." concerning a number of boilerplate, out-of-date discovery objections.   Over three years after the opinion in Fischer, many firms have yet to update their forms' general objections.

As Magistrate Judge Peck noted:

[Under Fed. R. Civ. P. 34(b)(2)(B)-(C), R]esponses to discovery requests must:

  • State grounds for objections with specificity; 
  • An objection must state whether any responsive materials are being withheld on the basis of that objection; and
  • Specify the time for production and, if a rolling production, when production will begin and when it will be concluded.

Most lawyers who have not changed their "form file" violate one or more (and often all three) of these changes.

While the order was addressed to the "Bar in this District [the SDNY]" and specific to several 2015 amendments to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, its teachings are generally informative and transferrable to practice in other federal jurisdictions as well as most states (which follow rules of civil procedure closely modeled on the Federal Rules.