Adams, Oot and Behrens File Amicus Brief Urging Eighth Circuit to Limit Scope of Discovery

On behalf of Lawyers for Civil Justice, Shook Partners Robert Adams, Patrick Oot and Mark Behrens filed an amicus brief on August 1, 2016, to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit arguing for the reversal of a lower court's discovery ruling that imposed a multimillion-dollar cost burden on the petitioner without considering whether the scope of discovery was proportional to the needs of the case. A decision on these issues of first impression could have implications on the interpretation of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (FRCP) beyond the Eighth Circuit, the brief asserts.

Adams, Oot and Behrens argue that the U.S. District Court, Western District of Missouri, in In re State Farm Fire & Casualty Co. relied on outdated law by ignoring 2015 amendments to the FRCP mandating proportional limits on the scope of discovery. The court's May 9, 2016, order described the scope of discovery as "broad" and "liberal," they explain, contrary to the proportionality standard described in the December 1, 2015, FRCP amendments.

The brief also argues that the court failed to manage requests that needlessly increased litigation costs, as dictated by the FRCP, by ordering the petitioner "to answer detailed interrogatories for each of the approximately 145,000 members in the putative class."

The brief authors further argue that the court erred in refusing to consider appropriate tools for reducing the burdens of discovery, such as phased, sampled or delayed discovery, and reviewing a special master's discovery order under the abuse-of-discretion standard rather than as a de novo examination.