CHICAGO, ILLINOIS – On June 1, 2017, the Northern District of Illinois became one of only two federal district courts in the United States participating in a three-year project to test the use of “robust mandatory initial discovery” intended to reduce cost and delay in civil litigation. The Mandatory Initial Discovery Pilot (MIDP) requires parties in most civil litigation to exchange mandatory initial discovery responses before initiating any other discovery—including the disclosure of relevant facts both favorable and unfavorable to their claims and defenses. The required disclosures far exceed the current Rule 26(a)(1) disclosure obligations and are intended to let the parties assess the merits of their claims and defenses at the outset of the litigation.

The Court’s Standing Order explains the parties’ obligations under the MIDP, including the required initial disclosures and discovery responses each party must provide. Most notably, the Standing Order requires:

  • Parties must provide information, facts, and documents that are relevant to the parties’ claims and defenses, regardless of whether that information is favorable or unfavorable and regardless of whether the party intends to use the information in presenting their claims and defenses.
  • Parties must serve initial discovery responses and documents to mandatory discovery before initiating any other discovery. Parties seeking affirmative relief (i.e., plaintiffs) must file responses to mandatory discovery within 30 days of the first filed responsive pleading. Parties filing responsive pleadings (i.e., defendants) must also file their discovery responses no later than 30 days after it files its responsive pleading. Additionally, parties must produce electronically-stored information within 40 days of serving its initial responses to the mandatory initial discovery requests.
  • A defendant must file any answer, counterclaims, cross-claims, and replies within the time period set forth in Rule 12(a)(1)-(3), even if it intends to or does file a motion to dismiss. A party can seek leave from the court to defer the time to file a responsive pleading where the dismissal motion is based on lack of personal jurisdiction.
  • The parties must be prepared to discuss mandatory initial discovery and describe those discussions (including whether they sought to withhold any information) in their Rule 26(f) report and at the court’s initial planning conference.

The program applies to most civil cases filed after June 1, 2017, that are assigned to certain federal judges. The parties cannot opt-out of the program.

Although DiCello Levitt & Casey maintains a nationwide litigation docket, we file many cases in our home court, the Northern District of Illinois, which is down the block from our offices. “We anticipate that the initial discovery delays that so often bog down complex litigation in other jurisdictions will no longer be tolerated here in Chicago,” said founding partner Adam Levitt. “Provided that the court has jurisdiction, filing complex cases in Chicago will allow the parties to cut to the chase, getting to the merits of the parties’ claims and defenses without all of the gamesmanship we saw in the past. In the face of the ever-increasing financial and temporal costs of civil litigation, the MIDP is a strong step in the right direction and a clear effort to restore efficiency and focus to the litigation process.”

Our attorneys are familiar with the breadth and depth of the disclosures required by the Standing Order adopted by the Northern District of Illinois, as well as the timing and filing requirements under the program. If you would like to discuss the program or working with us on a case in the Northern District of Illinois, e-mail Adam Levitt (alevitt@dlcfirm.com), John Tangren (jtangren@dlcfirm.com), or Amy Keller (akeller@dlcfirm.com), or call us at 312-214-7900.