Growing Litigation Discovery Costs Propel Congressional Hearings

Thursday, January 12, 2012 - 16:25


Members of Congress conducted a hearing in December to consider the merits of reforming the nation’s civil justice system and the need for amendment of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure amid mounting concern about the costs and burdens of litigation in the modern information age. The judiciary subcommittee hearing, “The Costs and Burdens of Civil Discovery,” took place on the heels of the U.S. Advisory Committee on Civil Rules actions to reexamine the civil rules, particularly those that govern the discovery and preservation of electronically stored information.

Broad and meaningful revision of the federal rules is critical to the health of the nation’s economy because of the adverse impact that the costs, burdens and inefficiencies of the current federal legal system have on our economy and the ability of U.S. companies to compete in a global marketplace. Current common law rules are inconsistent and inadequate to meet the challenges of a digital age in which information is increasing exponentially every day.

“The present litigation climate of ‘plead anything, discover everything’ is crippling our clients, said L. Gino Marchetti, Jr., president of Lawyers for Civil Justice. “Corporate litigants in America are spending hundreds of millions of dollars on unnecessary discovery and preservation. What the system needs are practical, rule-based solutions that can alleviate these unreasonable costs and burdens.”

In recent years, Lawyers for Civil Justice (LCJ) has been at the forefront of organizations supporting revisions to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, stressing the importance of rule reform to a healthy, balanced economy. LCJ is pleased that Congress has taken a closer look at this issue and at the many ways in which the nation’s civil justice system is currently impacting the nation’s economic health.

Witnesses included Rebecca Love Kourlis, former Colorado Supreme Court justice, now director of the Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System; William H.J. Hubbard, assistant professor of law, University of Chicago Law School; and Thomas H. Hill, associate general counsel, Environmental Litigation & Legal Policy, General Electric Company.