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Defense Bar Calls for Changes to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure

CHICAGO, May 10, 2010 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ -- Fundamental Reform Needed to Improve the Administration of Justice in the Federal Courts Lawyers for Civil Justice (LCJ), DRI - The Voice of the Defense Bar, the Federation of Defense & Corporate Counsel (FDCC), and the International Association of Defense Counsel (IADC) today announced a new impetus for a fundamental review of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure by submitting a white paper, Reshaping the Rules of Civil Procedure for the 21st Century, to the 2010 Conference on Civil Litigation beginning today at Duke Law School.

The white paper, subtitled "The Need for Clear, Concise, and Meaningful Amendments to Key Rules of Civil Procedure," represents the consensus of the defense bar on major problems facing the federal courts now and in the future.

It encourages the Federal Judicial Conference Rules Committee, sponsor of the conference, to move forward with meaningful amendments to the rules to help solve those problems.

According to LCJ President John H. Martin, "The white paper calls for a comprehensive reevaluation of the existing rules governing litigation in the twenty-first century." He explained, "More than just tinkering at the edges of the rules is needed, and fundamental reforms are in order to improve the administration of justice in the federal courts." The submission of the LCJ white paper follows on the heels of two significant U.S. Supreme Court decisions, Twombly and Iqbal, which recognized that under the present system of notice pleading and broad discovery, the federal courts were failing in key ways to ensure the just, speedy and cost-effective determination of every action. The paper also builds upon the findings of the joint project of the American College of Trial Lawyers (ACTL) and the Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System (IAALS) at the University of Denver that, "although the civil justice system is not broken, it is in serious need of repair." The white paper was developed with broad input from almost 100 corporate and defense counsel and will be presented to the Duke Conference by Bruce Parker of Venable LLP.

The white paper references diverse stakeholders in the federal civil litigation process who want systemic reform of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. It states that necessary reforms cannot be left to sporadic and potentially inconsistent ad hoc holdings by various courts deciding cases before them.

Courts acting individually face practical and institutional limitations that prevent them from making the needed systemic changes to inter-related rules.

Broad-based policy and rule reform are necessary.

The white paper outlines the need for systemic reform in four important areas: Pleadings - It recommends implementation of the realistic pleading standard in Twombly and Iqbal to include more than mere notice pleading.

Limited Discovery - The paper proposes a rule that limits the scope of discovery to the claims and defenses in the action.

Preservation - The rules should be amended to permit spoliation sanctions only where willful conduct for the purpose of depriving another party of the use of the information results in actual prejudice to the other party.

Cost Allocation - Runaway discovery costs require specific cost allocation provisions that require each party to pay the costs of the discovery it seeks.

In the white paper, the LCJ, DRI, FDCC and IADC jointly call for a comprehensive reevaluation of the existing rules governing litigation in the twenty-first century, including attempting to redefine and balance the interrelationship of pleading and discovery, reevaluating the premises and focus of discovery, further refining the treatment of e-discovery, developing clear preservation standards, and deterring runaway litigation costs by reasonable cost allocation rules. It is not just the individual litigants in a particular case that are impacted by today's litigation problems. Indeed, these problems affect the courts applying the rules, the attorneys interpreting those rules and counseling their clients, and the members of society who need a system of civil justice that provides meaningful, accessible, and affordable dispute resolution.

LCJ and its members hope to shape this important debate by providing the corporate and defense perspective to the policymakers at the earliest possible time. The white paper can be downloaded at www.lfcj.com.

Organization Overviews: Lawyers for Civil Justice Lawyers for Civil Justice (LCJ) is a national association of corporate and defense counsel supporting excellence and fairness in the civil justice system.

DRI - The Voice of the Defense Bar DRI - The Voice of the Defense Bar (DRI) is the national organization of more than 22,500 defense trial lawyers and corporate counsel. DRI provides numerous educational and informational resources to members and offers many opportunities for liaison among defense trial lawyers, Corporate America, and state and local legal defense organizations. DRI also has an international presence, seeking to enhance understanding of the law among members of the defense community who have reason to be concerned with the expanding globalization of litigation defense.

The organization can be reached at www.dri.org.

Federation of Defense & Corporate Counsel The Federation of Defense & Corporate Counsel (FDCC), composed of recognized leaders in the legal community who have achieved professional distinction, is dedicated to promoting knowledge, fellowship, and professionalism of its members as they pursue the course of a balanced justice system and represent those in need of a defense in civil lawsuits.

International Association of Defense Counsel The International Association of Defense Counsel (IADC) has served a distinguished membership of corporate and insurance defense attorneys since 1920. Its activities benefit the approximately 2,400 invitation-only, peer-reviewed international members and their clients through networking, education, and professional opportunities. The IADC takes a leadership role in many areas of legal interest and professional development.

Contact:

John H. Martin

Lawyers for Civil Justice

Thompson & Knight LLP

One Arts Plaza

1722 Routh Street, Suite 1500

Dallas, TX 75201

PH: 214-969-1229

john.martin@tklaw.com

Marc E. Williams

DRI - The Voice of the Defense Bar

Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough, LLP

949 Third Avenue, Suite 200

Huntington, WV 25701

PH: 304-526-3501

marc.williams@nelsonmullins.com

James M. Campbell

International Association of Defense Counsel

Campbell Campbell Edwards & Conroy PC

One Constitution Plaza

Boston, MA 02128

PH: 617 241 3060

jmcampbell@campbell-trial-lawyers.com

Michael T. Lucey

Federation of Defense & Corporate Counsel

Gordon & Rees LLP

Embarcadero Center

West 275 Battery Street

San Francisco, CA 94111-3305

PH: 415-986-8054

mlucey@gordonrees.com SOURCE DRI - The Voice of the Defense Bar www.prnewswire.com Copyright (C) 2010 PR Newswire. All rights reserved -0- KEYWORD: Illinois SUBJECT CODE: LAW

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