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Western District of Washington’s New Local Rules Promote Efficiency for Discovery and Trial

Brittany Kauffman Posted in Rule One

The Western District of Washington has amended its Local Civil Rules, which include their express purpose of promoting “the just, efficient, speedy, and economical determination of every action and proceeding.” Local Rule 26(f) states that the proportionality standard set forth in Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(b)(2)(C) “must be applied in every case when parties formulate a discovery plan and promulgate discovery requests.” The Rule goes on to provide an extensive list of issues for joint consideration by the parties and encourages the use of a Model Agreement Regarding Discovery of Electronically Stored Information in Civil Litigation, or a modified version thereof. This “Model ESI Agreement” addresses cooperation, proportionality, and a host of other ESI issues, including additional provisions for consideration in more complex cases. The Agreement provides a thorough framework for addressing and resolving ESI issues, making it a useful tool for litigants dealing with ESI issues in all jurisdictions.

The newly amended Local Rules also create a new Individualized Trial Program (Local Rule 39.2), which is “meant to offer an abbreviated, efficient and cost-effective litigation and trial alternative.”  The Rule provides for a consensual, binding trial before a jury or judge with an expedited trial conference, limited discovery, an expedited trial, and limited rights of appeal. At the same time, the aptly named new program recognizes “that individualized trial procedures are most efficient when tailored to the specific needs of a case,” and provides that “the parties may propose modifications to this rule, subject to the approval of the judge.”