Archive: June 3, 2017

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TX Supreme Court Addresses Format of Production, Applies Proportionality

TX Supreme Court Addresses Format of Production, Applies Proportionality

In re State Farm Lloyds, Nos. 15-0903, 15-0905, 2017 WL 2323099 (Tex. Mar. 26, 2017)

Today, we elucidate the guiding principles informing the exercise of discretion over electronic-discovery disputes, emphasizing that proportionality is the polestar. In doing so, we further a guiding tenet of the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure: that litigants achieve a “just, fair, equitable and impartial adjudication . . . with as great expedition and dispatch and at the least expense . . . as may be practicable.”

In this dispute over the format of production, the Supreme Court of Texas took its opportunity to “(1) clarify that neither the requesting party nor the producing party has a unilateral right to specify the format of discovery under Rule 196.4 and (2) provide guidance regarding the application of Rule 192.4’s proportionality factors in the electronic-discovery context.” In so doing, the court denied the request for mandamus relief without prejudice “to allow the relator to seek reconsideration by the trial court in light of [the] opinion.”  The court summarized its conclusions as follows:

Under our discovery rules, neither party may dictate the form of electronic discovery. The requesting party must specify the desired form of production, but all discovery is subject to the proportionality overlay embedded in our discovery rules and inherent in the reasonableness standard to which our electronic-discovery rule is tethered. The taproot of this discovery dispute is whether production in native format is reasonable given the circumstances of this case. Reasonableness and its bedfellow, proportionality, require a case-by-case balancing of jurisprudential considerations, which is informed by factors the discovery rules identify as limiting the scope of discovery and geared toward the ultimate objective of “obtain[ing] a just, fair, equitable and impartial adjudication” for the litigants “with as great expedition and dispatch at the least expense … as may be practicable.” (Citations omitted.)

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