April 04, 2016 Top Story

Amended Federal Rules Emphasize Early Case Assessment

Rules 4, 16, 26, and 34 accelerate discovery and may promote earlier settlement

Lauren M. Gregory

Recent amendments to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure encourage parties to dig into the merits of their disputes from the start of the case to cut delays and increase cooperation in the early stages of litigation. Leaders of the ABA Section of Litigation expect that the accelerated deadlines and stringent standards in the amended rules will help parties avoid future costly and inefficient discovery-related disputes.

Rules 4 and 16: Prompting Earlier Engagement with the Issues

The amended Rule 4 shortens the time limit for service of a complaint by 30 days, requiring the court to dismiss complaints that plaintiffs have not served within 90 days of filing. Meanwhile, the amended Rule 16 requires the court to issue a scheduling order 30 days earlier than before—90 days after the plaintiff served any defendant or 60 days after any defendant appears in a case. The court’s scheduling order may include terms about electronic discovery, document preservation, and privilege issues.

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