Rule 26.02. Discovery Scope and Limits

Unless otherwise limited by order of the court in accordance with these rules, the scope of discovery is as follows.

(1) IN GENERAL. Parties may obtain discovery regarding any matter, not privileged, which is relevant to the subject matter involved in the pending action, whether it relates to the claim or defense of the party seeking discovery or to the claim or defense of any other party, including the existence, description, nature, custody, condition and location of any books, documents, or other tangible things and electronically stored information, i.e. information that is stored in an electronic medium and is retrievable in perceivable form, and the identity and location of persons having knowledge of any discoverable matter. It is not ground for objection that the information sought will be inadmissible at the trial if the information sought appears reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence.

A party need not provide discovery of electronically stored information from sources that the party (sic) identifies as not reasonably accessible because of undue burden or cost. On motion to compel discovery or for a protective order, the party from whom discovery (sic) is sought must show that the information is not reasonably accessible because of undue burden and cost. If that showing is made, the court may nonetheless order discovery from such sources if the requesting party shows good cause. e.g., where the party requesting discovery shows that the likely benefit of the proposed discovery outweighs the likely burden or expense. taking into account the amount in controversy, the resources of the parties, the importance of the issues, and the importance of the requested discovery in resolving the issues. The court shall specify conditions for the discovery.

The frequency or extent of use of the discovery methods set forth in subdivision 26.01 and this subdivision shall be limited by the court if it determines that. (i) the discovery sought is unreasonably cumulative or duplicative or is obtainable from some other source that is more convenient, less burdensome or less expensive; (ii) the party seeking discovery has had ample opportunity by discovery in the action to obtain the information sought; or, (iii) the discovery is unduly burdensome or expensive, taking into account the needs of the case, the amount in controversy, limitations on the parties’ resources, and the importance of the issues at stake in the litigation. The court may act upon its own initiative after reasonable notice or pursuant to a motion under subdivision 26.03.

(2) (Reserved.)

(3) TRIAL PREPARATION. MATERIALS. Subject to the provisions of subdivision (4) of this rule, a party may obtain discovery of documents and tangible things otherwise discoverable under subdivision (1) of this rule and prepared in anticipation of litigation or for trial by or for another party or by or for that other party’s representative (including an attorney, consultant, surety, indemnitor, insurer, or agent) only upon a showing that the party seeking discovery has substantial need of the materials in the preparation of the case and is unable without undue hardship to obtain the substantial equivalent of the materials by other means. In ordering discovery of such materials when the required showing has been made, the court shall protect against disclosure of the mental impressions, conclusions, opinions, or legal theories of an attorney or other representative of a party concerning the litigation.

A party may obtain without the required showing a statement concerning the action or its subject matter previously made by that party. Upon request, a person not a party may obtain without the required showing a statement concerning the action or its subject matter previously made by that person. If the request is refused, the person may move for a court order. The provisions of Rule 37.01(4) apply to the award of expenses incurred in relation to the motion. For purposes of this paragraph, a statement previously made is (A) a written statement signed or otherwise adopted or approved by the person making it, or (B) a stenographic, mechanical, electrical, or other recording, or a transcription thereof, which is a substantially verbatim recital of an oral statement by the person making it and contemporaneously recorded.

(4) TRIAL PREPARATION. EXPERTS. Discovery of facts known and opinions held by experts, otherwise discoverable under the provisions of subdivision (1) of this rule and acquired or developed in anticipation of litigation or for trial, may be obtained only as follows.

(A)(i) A party may through interrogatories require any other party to identify each person whom the other party expects to call as an expert witness at trial, to state the subject matter on which the expert is expected to testify, and to state the substance of the facts and opinions to which the expert is expected to testify and a summary of the grounds for each opinion. In addition, upon request in an interrogatory, for each person so identified, the party shall disclose the witness’s qualifications (including a list of all publications authored in the previous ten years), a list of all other cases in which, during the previous four years (sic), the witness testified as an expert, and a statement of the compensation to be paid for the study and testimony in the case.

(ii) A party may also depose any other party’s expert witness expected to testify at trial.

(B) A party may not discover the identity of, facts known by, or opinions held by an expert who has been consulted by another party in anticipation of litigation or preparation for trial and who is not to be called as a witness at trial except as provided in Rule 35.02 or upon a showing that the party seeking discovery cannot obtain facts or opinions on the same subject by other means.

(C) Unless manifest injustice would result, (i) the court shall require that the party seeking discovery pay the expert a reasonable fee for time spent in responding to discovery under subdivisions (4)(A)(ii) and (4)(B) of this rule; and (ii) with respect to discovery obtained under subdivision (4)(A)(ii) of this rule the court may require, and with respect to discovery obtained under subdivision (4)(B) of this rule the court shall require, the party seeking discovery to pay the other party a fair portion of the fees and expenses reasonably incurred by the latter party in obtaining facts and opinions from the expert.

(5) CLAIMS OF PRIVILEGE OR PROTECTION OF TRIAL PREPARATION MATERIALS. When a party withholds information otherwise discoverable under the rules by claiming that it is privileged or subject to protection as trial preparation material, the party shall make the claim expressly and shall describe the nature of the documents, communications, or things not produced or disclosed in a manner that, without revealing information itself privileged or protected, will enable other parties to assess the applicability of the privilege protection.

If information is produced in discovery that is subject to a claim of privilege or of protection as trial-preparation material, the party making the claim may notify any party that received the information of the claim and the basis for it. After being notified, a party must promptly return, sequester, or destroy the specified information and any copies it has and may not use or disclose the information until the claim is resolved. A receiving party may promptly present the information to the court under seal for determination of the claim. If the receiving party disclosed the information before being notified, it must take reasonable steps to retrieve it. The producing party must preserve the information until the claim is resolved.

[As amended July 1, 1979; and by order entered January 31, 1984, effective August 20, 1984; and January 29, 1987, effective August 1, 1987; and by order effective July 1, 1997; and by order entered January 28, 2000, effective July 1, 2000; by order filed January 31, 2002, effective July 1, 2002, by order filed January 1, 2003, and effective July 1, 2003; by order filed January 8, 2009, effective July 1, 2009; and by order filed December 21, 2010, effective July 1, 2011.]

Click here for Advisory Commission Comments to Rules 26.01-26.07.

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