Northwest Lawyer

The Evolving Effect of Technology in Litigation

April 2017

By Daniel B. Garrie

Technology Litigation

The rise of technical issues in litigation is steadily increasing the time and cost of resolving lawsuits. The average civil litigation in federal court takes upwards of 24 months to reach a resolution on the merits.

Thus, courts and attorneys are increasingly looking to alternative processes to address technical issues more efficiently, such as the appointment of special masters or neutrals. This article offers practical guidance on the nuts and bolts of selecting and working with special masters and neutrals in state and federal court to help reduce the time and cost of litigation.

Appointing a Discovery Special Master to Resolve Technical Issues in Discovery

A discovery special master is an individual who works at the direction of the courts to oversee and manage technical issues in the discovery process. Discovery special masters are the most widely used type of special master and can be valuable in any case in which complex discovery issues exist that would most efficiently be managed by an individual with legal and technical expertise.

Appointing a discovery special master differs under state and federal law. For Washington courts, Superior Court Civil Rule (CR) 53.3 provides that an appointment “may be made, for good cause shown, upon the request of any party in pending litigation or upon the court’s own motion.” In federal court, an appointment is made pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure (FRCP) 53, which provides that a court “may appoint a master only to: (A) perform duties consented to by the parties; [or] (B) hold trial proceedings and make or recommend findings of fact on issues to be decided without a jury if appointment is warranted.”

To read the full article, go to JAMS ADR

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