H. Christopher Boehning and Daniel J. Toal: Embracing Proportionality, Court Refuses To Compel Discovery ‘Based on Relevance Alone’

Extract from H. Christopher Boehning and Daniel J. Toal’s article “Embracing Proportionality, Court Refuses To Compel Discovery ‘Based on Relevance Alone’”

Of the many changes to e-discovery practice introduced by the 2015 amendments to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, the most impactful may have been the change to Rule 26(b)(1) that restored proportionality to the determination of the appropriate scope of discovery. After the amendments went into effect, many courts around the country quickly—and even proactively—incorporated the principle and factors of proportionality from Rule 26(b)(1) into their decisions, often as part of limiting the scope of requested discovery.

In a recent decision, a court denied a motion to compel additional discovery, criticizing the moving party for focusing its arguments on relevance, and not on whether the requested discovery was proportional to the needs of the case. The decision is a reminder of the fundamental importance of proportionality post-2015, when allowable discovery is not determined by relevance alone.

‘Weidman v. Ford’
In Weidman v. Ford Motor Company, 2021 WL 2349400 (E.D. Mich. June 9, 2021), the plaintiffs sued Ford, claiming brake defects in a type of Ford vehicle. As part of its third set of requests for production, the plaintiffs—in request for production 69 (RFP 69) —asked Ford to produce documents relating to the presence of hydrocarbons.

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