The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois in Chicago has made changes to its Mandatory Initial Discovery Pilot Project program.
These changes could be significant for corporate defendants who would no longer have to respond to a lawsuit and could move forward with the mandatory initial discovery responses when filing a motion to dismiss, said attorney Nicholas M. Berg, of the firm of Ropes and Gray.
This is a major change from the original policy, he said.
“When the Northern District launched the Pilot Project in June 2017, the district’s standing order required defendants to file an answer even if they also filed a motion to dismiss,” attorney Nicholas M. Berg of Ropes & Gray law firm told The Cook County Record. “Because filing an answer starts the clock on a party’s initial disclosure responses, the Pilot Project required defendants to respond to the mandatory requests and quickly produce (requested information.) The recent amendment to the District’s standing order, effective Dec. 1, 2018, changes this requirement. Now, unless the court orders otherwise, defendants need not file an answer – or respond to the initial mandatory disclosures – if they move to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b).”
Berg Ropes & Gray
Ultimately, this could reduce the number of cases that require defendants to follow the Pilot Project’s timeline right away. With the new rule, they can file a motion to dismiss without having to file an answer.
Still, considering these changes, Berg added that clients should keep in mind that while it benefits those who are looking to file a motion to dismiss, defendants facing lawsuits should prepare to maneuver into the discovery phase if the dismissal is not granted.
Berg wasn’t sure how long the changes will be in effect, or if they are permanent, as the court's pathway forward is difficult to predict at this phase.