Recent State/Federal Rules Changes as of February 2016: Proposed Changes to Summary Judgment and Scheduling Order Rules

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The federal district court has proposed several changes to its local rules; notable changes relevant to a plaintiff’s PI practice are described below. The proposed changes seem generally plaintiff friendly. Comments are due by February 29.

Language of Rule 16

The language of Rule 16 governing scheduling of cases will no longer require judges and magistrate judges to be aggressive in exploring the possibility of ADR with clients.

Deadlines and limits on discovery in a scheduling order

When requesting a change to the deadlines and limits on discovery in a scheduling order, a lawyer is no longer required to professionally represent to the court that she has made her best efforts to reduce cost and delay in the case, and has spoken with her client about this. The old rule was quite problematic in squeezing an attorney between two different, competing, professional obligations—the obligation to represent her client zealously by undertaking the discovery necessary to prove a case, and the obligation imposed in the rule to limit not only needless cost and delay in a case, but all cost and delay generally.

Time frame for standard track cases

The time frame for standard track cases is expanded to allow 5 months of discovery rather than 4, and set a trial date 7 months after issuance of the order rather than 6. Scheduling orders in complex cases are the result of discussion between the parties and the judge, but this expansion of the time frame for standard tracks will obviously inform that discussion.

Filing of summary judgment motions: Daubert and Kumho

The local procedure governing filing of summary judgment motions has been expanded to include Daubert and Kumho motions. As with summary judgment motions, the parties must announce an intention to file such a motion in a pre-filing conference, and all parties must show good cause to request an extension of time or page limits in filing or opposing a Daubert or Kumho motion.