Boilerplate Discovery Objections Can Harm Your Case (And Cost Your Client Money)

In Fischer v. Forrest, Judge Andrew Peck issued “a wake-up call to the Bar.”  This New York federal magistrate judge took lawyers to task for “boilerplate” discovery objections, finding them to violate the 2015 amendments to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure in multiple ways.

Discovery Responses Must Meet Minimum Standards

Judge Peck identified certain minimum standards for discovery responses.  They must:

  1. State the specific grounds for objections;
  2. Indicate if any otherwise responsive materials are being withheld based on the objections; and
  3. Specify the time for production; for “rolling production,” state when production will begin and end.

Certain Boilerplate Objections Are Inconsistent with these Standards

The opinion observed:

  • Making several boilerplate objections and incorporating those into the responses will generally violate the rules;
  • General objections such as “not likely to lead to the discovery of relevant, admissible evidence” and not relevant “to the subject matter of this litigation” no longer fit with the amended rules; and
  • Unsupported statements that a request is “overly broad and unduly burdensome” are “meaningless boilerplate;” they provide nothing useful to the Court or the parties.

Consequences for Discovery Responses That Fail to Comply

Judge Peck ordered the lawyers who prepared these responses to revise them to comply with the rules.

He also said that, from now on, discovery responses that fail to state objections with specificity or that fail to clearly state if responsive material is being withheld based on the objections will be deemed to waive all objections except as to privilege.  [emphasis mine]

I want to thank Doug Austin and the eDiscovery Daily Blog for calling this case to my attention.

For a copy of Judge Peck’s opinion click here.

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