The 7th Circuit has implemented a pilot program (the “7th Circuit Pilot Program”) designed to address the rising cost associated with the discovery of electronically stored information (“ESI”). In the initial stage of this pilot program a proposed Standing Order Relating to the Discovery of Electronically Stored Information has been created and will be used in select cases by certain judges within the district.
The 7th Circuit Pilot Program, like the recently amended Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, requires the parties to understand and discuss likely sources of discoverable ESI at the beginning of a case. At this time the parties are also required to discuss what ESI is to be preserved and anticipated issues relating to production of that information including the format of production and privilege issues. Unlike the Federal Rules, the pilot program requires litigants to consider and discuss whether discovery can be conducted in stages to minimize cost to the parties.
The pilot program’s initial report and proposed Standing Order Relating to the Discovery of Electronically Stored Information can be viewed at:
If your company is involved in trucking class action cases, truck accident litigation, cargo claims, or simply trying to collect your freight charges, it is important to understand the role of ESI, along with traditional paper documents, in litigation. The 7th Circuit Pilot Program illustrates that courts, like litigants, are becoming more familiar with ESI and are addressing ESI issues both under the recently amended Federal Rules and via unique approaches like the 7th Circuit Pilot Program. As businesses store more and more information electronically it is important to recognize that this information may be discoverable in litigation and have an organizational plan regarding storage of this information (who, where, when, how long), a procedure for disposing of outdated electronic information, and the ability to suspend disposal once litigation is reasonably anticipated. Although programs like the 7th Circuit Pilot Program may ultimately help contain the rising costs associated with discovery of ESI, a company can reduce its litigation cost related to ESI significantly by taking steps in advance of litigation to understand and manage its stored data.