Discovery Process Abuses
Once a lawsuit is filed, a formal exchange of evidence begins. This exchange is governed by specific rules of law. The rules govern and protect litigants from abuse of this process. Thus, lawyers should not only be experienced in the discovery process– but fluent in it. When a lawyer is familiar with the strategies, tricks, and overall proper conduct in the discovery process, they have a better chance of protecting you.
One of the most common Discovery Process Abuses is the “war of attrition.” This abuse happens when one party is a large business that is well endowed and has a plethora of funds for litigation and the other party is a smaller business that has limited resources. In this scenario, the opponent (larger business) may purposely extend the process to exhaust the opponent’s legal fees. Some examples of dragging out the process include: request of unnecessary witness and depositions, request of frivolous documents, reorganization of documents, or filing unnecessary discovery motions. All of these requests delay the process, increase attorney’s fee and ultimately cost money. The discovery process is one that inherently takes time, so if unnecessary discovery requests keep coming through an attorney can seek monetary sanctions for the misuse.
Another strategy used in the discovery process is gaining access to protected documents. A whole lawsuit could be in order to gain access to sensitive business material such as trade secrets. Sometimes an entire lawsuit is filed in bad faith and to simply get information. In order to protect yourself, an attorney can ask the court to set limits on sensitive data during the discovery process. Not only does this protect a company’s sensitive date, it lets your opponent know that you are setting a standard for the discovery process.