December 4, 2019

Michigan Court Rule Changes

Changes to the Michigan Court Rules will be effective January 1, 2020.  The changes are associated with discovery reforms. These are the result of a two-year process involving judges, attorneys, legal authorities outside the State of Michigan, academics and others designed to address what were flaws in the present discovery system. The flaws include high costs, undue delay, dockets not moving swiftly, excessive and expensive and discovery motions and hearings. Problems were in part due to the glut of motor vehicle and no-fault cases that comprise in some instances 80% of any given judge’s docket.

These are the significant themes and highlights of these rules.
  • Embracing early disclosure from both plaintiff and defendant soon after the filing of the complaint and answer. This impacts budgeting as discovery is to be “front loaded,” and will necessarily contemplate faster earlier discovery track. We cannot assume discovery will be deferred because both sides agree. More time to resolve these issues or come to an early understanding with opposing counsel, will be required.
  • Parties’ or court’s involvement in discovery “proportionality,” meaning limitations or expansion of discovery depending on the complexity and dollar amount involved.
  • There is a proactive approach to the disclosure and management of electronically stored information (ESI).
  • More focus on duty to supplement discovery disclosures.
  • As many as three separate conferences/orders for ESI management, pretrial scheduling orders and discovery plans.
  • Anticipation/hope that the parties will be more cooperative, more communicative and more “reasonable” in adopting discovery plans before court intervention.
  • Adoption of principles used in the federal courts for early disclosures.

This analysis is not fully comprehensive but identifies several issues attorneys and their parties will be facing as these rules begin to take hold after January 1, 2020.

Daniel G. BeyerDan Beyer - trial attorney with nearly 40 years of experience in the Michigan Circuit and District courts and the Federal Court for the Eastern District of Michigan. focuses his practice on personal injury matters related to medical malpractice, motor vehicle claims and general negligence; lender’s and owner’s title claims; insurance coverage; physician licensing and administrative complaints; commercial matters and consumer claims; and general liability. He has appeared before the Michigan Court of Appeals, the Michigan Supreme Court and the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. Dan is also a Certified Mediator.

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