Late last year, significant changes to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure inserted a new consideration for courts when deciding the proper scope of discovery. Gone is the familiar test of “reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence.” In its place is a requirement of proportionality “to the needs of the case” — a determination that is based upon the following factors:
(1) the importance of the issues at stake in the action,
(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, and
(6) whether the burden or expense of the proposed discovery outweighs its likely benefit.
While these factors are not new to the rules (with the exception of the parties’ relative access to relevant information), they were moved front and center in the new rule in order to address a perceived problem of overbroad and overly expensive discovery. It will be interesting to track how these rule changes play out in practice. Already the new rules have played a prominent role in the following matters, wherein they are discussed by the courts:
Benson v. Rosenthal, No. CV 15-782, 2016 WL 1046126 (E.D. La. Mar. 16, 2016)(Wilkinson, M.J.);
Henry v. Morgan’s Hotel Grp., Inc., No. 15-CV-1789, 2016 WL 303114 (S.D.N.Y. Jan. 25, 2016); and
State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co. v. Fayda, No. 14-CIV-9792-WHP-JCF, 2015 WL 7871037 (S.D.N.Y. Dec. 3, 2015).