E-Discovery and Class Actions: Limiting Discovery Disputes with Special Masters
By Daniel B. Garrie & Tarique N. Collins
Class actions are often among the most explosive, costly, and challenging lawsuits faced by lawyers, courts, and litigants. This is certainly true when it comes to discovery and eDiscovery issues. Managing eDiscovery is a challenge when only two parties are involved. Confronted with a class or multiple classes of plaintiffs or defendants—ranging in numbers from tens to tens of thousands— constructing a cogent and competent discovery strategy becomes a significant challenge. When faced with such cases, courts and party attorneys should consider appointing a special master, a court-sanctioned referee of sorts, to power through discovery and eDiscovery issues. The court’s power to appoint a special master stems from Rule 53 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. A special master can assist in reducing the discovery burdens on all parties by working to lower costs, assisting with cost allocation, and aiding the court to police and address discovery abuses. The parties can, therefore, focus on the legal and factual issues actually driving a case, rather than become sidetracked by discovery disputes. To be sure, the appointment of a special master alleviates the burdens of electronic discovery in very specific ways.
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