"Updated: The civil justice system in the United States is so bogged down in a 'morass' of e-discovery that it is often too expensive for litigants to take their cases to trial, according to a survey of trial lawyers.
Now the next step is to fix this increasingly dysfunctional system, according to a press release (PDF) about an interim report (reg. req.) on the survey, which is a joint project of the American College of Trial Lawyers and the University of Denver's Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System (IAALS).
Key findings of the survey of the trial lawyers group's more than 3,800 members include:
• That court pleadings and the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure too often are used as leverage to force a settlement, rather than to better define and move a case ahead toward trial.
• That judges don't do enough to control excessive discovery (particularly e-discovery, which can be extremely expensive).
• That the current system works well for some kinds of cases, such as individual tort claims, but is unwieldy for mass tort claims, ERISA cases and administrative law actions, among others.
"The total lack of control over discovery including excessive depositions, over-broad interrogatories, unfocused requests for admissions as permitted by the rules without any court control is killing civil litigation," says one unnamed survey respondent, noting that the problem is compounded with the advent of electronic discovery.
Which is why getting a lawyer on board with your business now is a good idea. Using counsel to prevent problems - which means litigation - will cost less than litigation