“As is so often the case, the first sign of approaching disaster was a motion asking for leave to exceed the page limit….As part of the public service I provide, I have counted up the number of pages that were written, rewritten, printed, scanned, and/or filed by the lawyers during this titanic struggle, and, including exhibits, that number is 1,749. Not a single page of which will be considered by the Court or, in all likelihood, ever viewed again by any human being during the remainder of our species’ time on this planet. Perhaps eons hence some member of an alien race picking through our ruined archives will come upon it, and hurt its brain parts trying to figure it out.” [Kevin Underhill, Lowering the Bar, on E.D. Nev. class action discovery dispute]
And speaking of discovery, reader W.C. writes to say:
This is a False Claims Act case. I am not terribly interested in the substance (relators claim that a drug was recommended for off-label use and that Medicaid shouldn’t have paid for it; they complained and were fired).
What is interesting is taxable costs. Fifth Circuit affirmed (finding no abuse of discretion for an award of) $232,809.92.
Money quotes for me: “The district court acknowledged that [Defendant]’s invoices were not detailed but explained that, given nearly three million pages of copies [Defendant] produced for its defense in this case, it would have been impossible for [Defendant] to explain each page’s usefulness.” (emphasis added). The Court also allowed for “costs relating to (1) TIFF image conversion, (2) scanning, (3) formatting electronic documents, and (4) PDF conversion – per [28 U.S.C.] § 1920(4), which allows recovery for ‘exemplification’ and ‘making copies’ of case materials,” and confirmed that the district “allow[s] a prevailing party to recover the costs of complying with an opposing party’s request to reformat electronic documents or scan hard copies of documents” under 28 USDC s 1920.
Lessons: (i) You might want to more narrowly tailor those discovery request; (ii) Defendants had asked for $961,380.52, so maybe the back up the truck strategy was not 100% effective.
“Skin in the Game: A Proposed Co-Pay Requirement for Discovery-Requesting Parties” by Robert D. Owen and Francis X. Nolan, WLF, excerpt:
Economics teaches that underpriced commodities are inevitably overconsumed. This truth has become increasingly evident in the world of large-litigation discovery over the last decade. Requesting parties (typically plaintiffs) are not effectively limited by outside forces to moderate the breadth of the discovery, nor are they incentivized to curb excess demands. Discovery is currently free to requesting parties, and judges have limited time to mediate and resolve inevitable discovery disputes. Accordingly, discovery has spun out of control….
This Legal Backgrounder first explains how litigation has reached the current tipping point, and then offers examples of recent attempts by the Committee and the judiciary to push back against rising discovery costs. The publication concludes by offering a basic outline for a percentage-based requestor-pay rule, while also noting the advantages and hurdles attendant with such a proposal.
- Multi-district litigation still a Wild West realm: “Lawyers for Civil Justice Urges Reform of MDL Procedures” [request for rulemaking via TortsProf] “Multidistrict Litigation Reform: The Case for Earlier Application of Federal Pleading Standards” [James Beck, WLF]
- Lawyer vs. lawyer: “Philadelphia Injury Firm Sues Morgan & Morgan for False Advertising” [P. J. D’Annunzio, The Legal Intelligencer]
- Trespasser injured climbing electrical tower loses suit against Metro-North railroad and utility [Robert Storace, Connecticut Law Tribune; Daniel Fisher, Legal NewsLine, earlier] “Ohl was walking along the train tracks with earbuds in on March 2”; family now suing CSX [Amanda C. Coyne, Atlanta Journal-Constitution]
- “The U.S. Supreme Court Reins in Discovery Sanctions” [Phil Goldberg and Kathryn Constance, IADC]
- Annual state lawsuit climate survey from U.S. Chamber is out; could be a “wake-up call” for Delaware, assumed to have pro-business courts [Zoe Read, Newsworks]
- Boom in third-party litigation finance continues apace [Longford Capital]
- Truckers scramble as liability insurers exit from fleet coverage after giant verdicts [Brian Baskin, WSJ]
- Court rejects demand for netting at Major League Baseball venues: fans “lacked standing to sue because they could not show a sufficient likelihood they would be injured at future games” [Jonathan Stempel, Reuters]
- Talcum powder: “St. Louis Jury Returns Another Jaw-Dropping Verdict Against Johnson & Johnson” [Evan Tager and Miriam Nemetz, Mayer Brown Punitive Damages Blog]
- Study: pro se cases aside, not clear that Iqbal/Twombly pleading decisions have done much to alter case outcomes [William Hubbard via Brian Wolfman, CL&P]
- “Historic tobacco case revisited: biggest litigation win ever or a complete scam?” [Mark Curriden, Dallas News back in April]
- Should the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure move to a requester-pays system of discovery? [Alexander Dahl and A. Benjamin Spencer, Federalist Society podcast]
From the Federalist Society podcast series, Litigation Practice Group, in August:
A “requester pays” amendment to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (FRCP) would require that those seeking discovery pay for its costs, moving federal civil litigation away from the current “American rule” that requires all parties to bear their own litigation expenses, including the costs of responding to discovery requests. Supporters of “requester pays” argue that discovery requests can be so broad and costs can be so high that they become a disincentive to defend. Opponents claim that the amendment would make legal proceedings even more expensive for individual litigants, who would be unable to pay for the discovery necessary to make a case against larger and more powerful defendants. Here to discuss this idea are Alex Dahl of Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck LLP and Professor Benjamin Spencer of UVA School of Law.
- Settlement insurance, a new litigation-finance mechanism, can have the unintended result of casting light on just how little benefit some class actions provide to consumers [Ted Frank, CEI] Yet another new litigation finance mechanism: trial-expense insurance purchased by lawyers [Bloomberg/Insurance Journal]
- South Carolina law firm sues 185 different defendants in the average asbestos case it files, and it’s still far from tops in that department [Palmetto Business Daily]
- “Those terms and conditions (that nobody reads) could cost New Jersey retailers” [Tim Darragh, NJ.com on class actions under pre-Internet-era state consumer protection law]
- Some federal courts, while paying lip service to the important Rule 26 discovery reforms that took effect Dec. 1, continue in their old ways, “effectively applying the old standard” [James Beck]
- “Can Pokémon Go and Product Liability Coexist?” [Julie Steinberg, BNA/Product Safety & Liability Reporter, earlier]
- “How does privatization affect liability?” [Sasha Volokh]
- For thee but not for me? Lawprof proposes immunizing mass tort litigators from RICO liability [Mass Tort Litigation Blog]
- Some reasons, even aside from PLCAA, the Sandy Hook lawsuit against gunmakers is so weak [Jacob Sullum]
- One welcome, overdue development that deserves more attention than we’ve given it: federal courts adopt rules curtailing pretrial discovery [Institute for Legal Reform interview with former Colorado justice Rebecca Love Kourlis; Joe Palazzolo and Jess Bravin, WSJ]
- Cloudy in Texas, with a chance of $1 million lawsuits blaming broken floor tiles on falling objects [Southeast Texas Record via Texans for Lawsuit Reform; Hidalgo County]
- Billboards hawked Kentucky disability practice: “the law has finally caught up with ‘Mr. Social Security.’” [Louisville Courier-Journal]
- Wall Street Journal covers trend of big plaintiff’s firms teaming up with more city governments to file “affirmative litigation” [WSJ] We were on this trend as early as the year 2000 [San Francisco and Philadelphia launch such operations in wake of tobacco settlement). On county governments as cat’s-paws for trial lawyers in lead paint, opioid, and other mass tort cases, see coverage of California’s Santa Clara County here, here, etc., and on Orange County here, here, etc.
- Cohen Milstein contracts with attorney general on opioid claims: “New Hampshire’s fleet of private pirate lawyers” [editorial, Manchester Union-Leader] Transparency in Private Attorney Contracting (TiPAC) legislation would help [Tiger Joyce] New Louisiana AG Jeff Landry cancels Buddy Caldwell contracts with outside law firms [Louisiana Record] States with governor-appointed AGs have seen fewer scandals than the majority in which the post is elected [Phil Goldberg, RCP]
- Judge declines to dismiss Newtown families’ suit against rifle maker Remington Arms, PLCAA notwithstanding [Connecticut Post] Sandy Hook gun lawsuit “almost surely won’t succeed, nor should it.” [USA Today editorial] More: David French [extremely narrow ruling went to jurisdiction only, PLCAA as bar to recovery explicitly not at issue]
- Sen. Dick Durbin, long a guardian of trial lawyer interests, leads opposition to federal bill on transparency in asbestos claims [Illinois Business Daily]
- Judge tosses one wrongful death suit against Porsche over Paul Walker crash, another still pending [EOnline, earlier] GM ignition bellwether trials going exceptionally badly for plaintiffs as judge dismisses all but one claim in spun-out-on-black-ice case [Daniel Fisher]
- Litigation destroys business confidentiality and that’s by design [Steve McConnell, Drug and Device Law]
- “Justice Scalia’s Product Liability Legacy” [Anand Agneshwar and Emily M. May (Arnold & Porter), Lexology]
- After State Farm defeats hailstorm claim, judge threatens to sanction Texas attorney Steve Mostyn [Southeast Texas Record]
The New York Times in its “Op-Docs: Verbatim” series provides re-enactments of noteworthy real-life exchanges. “In this dramatization of transcripts from a legal deposition, lawyers grapple with a plaintiff’s bizarre testimony about the destruction of his chicken’s pasture.”