Civil Procedure Tip of the Week: Mastering the Mandatory Initial Discovery Pilot Program

Post authored by Kenny Matuszewski

On May 1, 2017, the Northern District of Illinois launched the Mandatory Initial Discovery Pilot (“MIDP”) Program. Developed by Judges Dow and St. Eve, the Program’s goal is to determine whether requiring parties to respond to a series of discovery requests before undertaking other forms of discovery will reduce the cost and burden of civil litigation.

Under the MIDP, parties are required to disclose the documents listed in Section B of the Standing Order once a party files an answer and before further discovery can take place under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (“FRCP”). Notably, because these requests are issued by the Court, they do not apply to discovery requests served by an opposing party and must be provided without the other party asking.

On December 1, 2018, the Court amended the MIDP. The amendment stated that moving forward, answers are due under the time periods established by FRCP 12(a). As a result, when motions to dismiss or other motions under Rule 12 are pending, the Court will not require the parties to answer documents, such as the complaint. This means the MIDP will not take effect at that point. However, while the MIDP may not be triggered, the Court still retains the authority to order the parties to provide an answer or begin discovery under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. This change was made to reduce the cost burdens for parties whose Rule 12 motions succeeded.

The following types of cases are excluded from the MIDP: 1) Cases exempted by Rule 26(a)(1)(B); 2) cases under the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act (“PSLRA”); 3) patent cases; 4) Consolidated multi-district litigation (“MDL”) cases.

Over half of the judges at the Northern District of Illinois participate in this program. Because the MIDP will last for three years, it is crucial that attorneys practicing civil litigation in the Northern District of Illinois understand this unique program.

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