Lawsuits explained– Part 5 of 8
In Lawsuits explained Part 4 we started looking at the second or discovery phase of a business lawsuit in Florida. This is part of our overall examination of the three basic phases of a business lawsuit; the pleadings, discovery, and resolution phases. In the preceding section we looked at depositions as one method for parties to use to question another party or a third-party outside of the lawsuit to obtain or clarify information and documents.
In this section we will review how parties can obtain and exchange information other than by depositions. While depositions have their place and are an effective means to obtain information and evaluate witnesses, other discovery devices like interrogatory questions or document requests can be an efficient means to obtaining information in discovery.
Interrogatories, Document Requests, and Admissions
Some of the other mechanisms available to parties in a lawsuit are interrogatories, requests to produce documents, and requests for information. When and which of these discovery methods to use is largely the judgment call of your attorney, but he or she should at least explain the options to you and the plan for using them in the overall discovery program.
Interrogatories are limited in number and ask the other side in a lawsuit to answer questions under oath, similar to what happens in a deposition, but they are not the same kind of questions.
Requests to produce ask for documents or categories of documents relevant to the lawsuit and likewise have certain limitations and restrictions placed upon them.
Requests for admissions ask the other side to admit or deny specific facts or validate documents to save time by not having to do so later.
Motions to Compel
When these requests go beyond what is allowed or they are perceived to do so, they are often met with motions filed by the recipient to which the requesting party can reply. This is commonly called motion practice and the disputes in this phase are either resolved by and between the lawyers or by the Judge in a hearing. Sometimes these issues can grow quite complex and involve unique issues touching on trade secrets, confidential business information, and electronic materials.
Discovery of Digital Data
In the past several years, the getting electronic materials in a lawsuit has occupied an increasingly important role in the discovery phase largely as a consequence of how businesses and people store and use information. Few businesses have a file cabinet with paper files nowadays; most have sophisticated cloud-based IT solutions that have become inexpensive and multiply the ability of the business to generate profit. This area of discovery of electronically stored information has aptly become known as e-discovery and is one of the newest and hottest topics in the legal industry.
In order to maintain pace with both its business clients and this evolving area of the law, the Law Office of David Steinfeld has embraced technology in the service it provides and David Steinfeld has taught numerous continuing education classes to Judges and to hundreds of lawyers on e-discovery.
He also created a website that evaluated the software from vendors used in e-discovery to better aid law firms across the country in selecting the right software and to provide a more cost effective and better service to clients.
Mr. Steinfeld is regularly called upon by the Florida Bar and the Palm Beach County Bar as well as other groups to speak on e-discovery and maintains special relationships with e-discovery software companies that allow the Law Office of David Steinfeld to obtain preferred pricing to benefit its clients.
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Board Certified expert in Florida business law, David Steinfeld has almost 25 years legal experience.