Rule 26. General Provisions Governing Discovery.

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(a) Discovery Methods. Parties may obtain discovery by one or more of the following methods: depositions upon oral examination or written questions; written interrogatories; production of documents or things or permission to enter upon land or other property, for inspection and other purposes; physical and mental examinations; and requests for admission. Unless the court orders otherwise under subdivision (c) of this rule, the frequency of use of these methods is not limited.

(b) Scope of Discovery. Unless otherwise limited by order of the court in accordance with these rules, the scope of discovery is as follows:

(1) In general. Parties may obtain discovery regarding any matter, not privileged, which is relevant to the issues in the pending actions, whether it relates to the claim or defense of the party seeking discovery or to the claim or defense of any other party, including the existence, description, nature, custody, condition, identity and location of any books, documents, or other tangible things and the identity and location of persons who have knowledge of any discoverable matter or who will or may be called as a witness at the trial of any cause. It is not ground for objection that the information sought will be inadmissible at the trial if the information sought appears reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence.

(2) Insurance agreements. A party may obtain discovery of the existence and contents of any insurance agreement under which any person carrying on an insurance business may be liable to satisfy part or all of a judgment which may be entered in the action or to indemnify or reimburse for payments made to satisfy the judgment. Information concerning the insurance agreement is not by reason of disclosure admissible in evidence at trial. For purposes of this paragraph, an application for insurance shall not be treated as part of an insurance agreement.

(3) Trial preparation; materials. Subject to the provisions of subdivision (b)(4) of this rule, a party may obtain discovery of documents and tangible things otherwise discoverable under subdivision (b)(1) of this rule and prepared in anticipation of litigation or for trial by or for another party or by or for that other party's representative (including his attorney, consultant, surety, indemnitor, insurer, or agent) only upon a showing that the party seeking discovery has substantial need of the materials in the preparation of his case and that he is unable without undue hardship to obtain the substantial equivalent of the materials by other means. In ordering discovery of such materials when the required showing has been made, the court shall protect against disclosure of the mental impressions, conclusions, opinions or legal theories of an attorney or other representative of a party concerning the litigation.

A party may obtain without the required showing a statement concerning the action or its subject matter previously made by that party. Upon request, a person not a party may obtain without the required showing a statement concerning the action or its subject matter previously made by that person. If the request is refused, the person may move for a court order. The provisions of Rule 37(a)(4) apply to the award of expenses incurred in relation to the motion. For purposes of this paragraph, a statement previously made is (A) a written statement signed or otherwise adopted or approved by the person making it, or (B) a stenographic, mechanical, electrical, or other recording, or a transcription thereof, which is a substantially verbatim recital of an oral statement by the person making it and contemporaneously recorded.

(4) Trial preparation: experts. Discovery of facts known and opinions held by experts, otherwise discoverable under the provisions of subdivision (b)(1) of this rule and acquired or developed in anticipation of litigation or for trial, may be obtained only as follows:

(A) (i) A party may through interrogatories require any other party to identify each person whom the other party expects to call as an expert witness at trial, to state the subject matter on which he is expected to testify, and to state the substance of the facts and opinions to which the expert is expected to testify and a summary of the grounds for each opinion. (ii) Subject to subdivision (b)(4)(C) of this rule, a party may depose any person who has been identified as an expert expected to testify at trial.

(B) A party may discover facts known or opinions held by an expert who has been retained or specially employed by another party in anticipation of litigation or preparation for trial and who is not expected to be called as a witness at the trial, only as provided in Rule 35(b) or upon a showing of exceptional circumstances under which it is impractical for the party seeking discovery to obtain facts or opinions on the same subject by other means.

(C) Unless manifest injustice would result, (i) the court shall require that the party seeking discovery pay the expert a reasonable fee for time spent in responding to discovery under subdivisions (b)(4)(A)(ii) and (b)(4)(B) of this rule; and (ii) with respect to discovery obtained under subdivision (b)(4)(B) of this rule the court shall require the party seeking discovery to pay the other a fair portion of the fees and expenses reasonably incurred by the latter party in obtaining facts and opinions from the expert.

(5) Inadvertent Disclosure.

(A) A party who discloses or produces material or information without intending to waive a claim of privilege or attorney work product shall be presumed not to have waived under these rules and the Arkansas Rules of Evidence if the party takes the following steps: (i) within fourteen calendar days of discovering the inadvertent disclosure, the producing party must notify the receiving party by specifically identifying the material or information and asserting the privilege or doctrine protecting it; and (ii) if responses to written discovery are involved, then the producing party must amend them as part of this notice.
(B) Within fourteen calendar days of receiving notice of an inadvertent disclosure, a receiving party must return, sequester, or destroy the specified materials and all copies. After receiving this notice, the receiving party may not use or disclose the materials in any way.

(C) A receiving party may challenge a disclosing party’s claim of privilege or protection and inadvertent disclosure. The reason for such a challenge may include, but
is not limited to, the timeliness of the notice of inadvertent disclosure or whether all the surrounding circumstances show waiver.

(D) In deciding whether the privilege or protection has been waived, the circuit court shall consider all the material circumstances, including: (i) the reasonableness of the precautions taken to prevent inadvertent disclosure; (ii) the scope of the discovery; (iii) the extent of disclosure; and (iv) the interests of justice. Notwithstanding Model Rule of Professional Conduct 3.7, and without having to terminate representation in the matter, an attorney for the disclosing party may testify about the circumstances of disclosure and the procedures in place to protect against inadvertent disclosure.

(c) Protective Orders. Upon motion by a party or by the person from whom discovery is sought, stating that the movant has in good faith conferred or attempted to confer with other affected parties in an effort to resolve the dispute without court action, and for good cause shown, the court in which the action is pending may make any order which justice requires to protect a party or person from annoyance, embarrassment, oppression, or undue burden or expense, including one or more of the following: (1) that the discovery not be had; (2) that the discovery may be had only on specified terms and conditions, including a designation of the time or place; (3) that the discovery may be had only by a method of discovery other than that selected by the party seeking discovery; (4) that certain matters not be inquired into, or that the scope of the discovery be limited to certain matters; (5) that discovery be conducted with no one present except persons designated by the court; (6) that a deposition after being sealed be opened only by order of the court; (7) that a trade secret or other confidential research, development, or commercial information not be disclosed or be disclosed only in a designated way; (8) that the parties simultaneously file specified documents or information enclosed in sealed envelopes to be opened as directed by the court.

If the motion for a protective order is denied in whole or in part, the court may, on such terms and conditions as are just, order that any party or person provide or permit discovery. The provisions of Rule 37(a)(4) apply to the award of expenses incurred in relation to the motion.

(d) Sequence and Timing of Discovery. Unless the court upon motion, for the convenience of parties and witnesses and in the interests of justice, orders otherwise, methods of discovery may be used in any sequence and the fact that a party is conducting discovery, whether by deposition or otherwise, shall not operate to delay any other party's discovery.

(e) Supplementation of Responses. (1) A party is under a duty seasonably to amend a prior response to an interrogatory, request for production, or request for admission if the party learns that the response is in some material respect incomplete or incorrect and if the additional or corrective information has not otherwise been made known to the other parties during the discovery process or in writing. This duty includes, but is not limited to, supplying supplemental information about the identity and location of persons having knowledge of discoverable matters, the identity and location of each person expected to be called as a witness at trial, and the subject matter and substance of any expert witness's testimony.

(2) An additional duty to supplement responses may be imposed by order of the court, agreement of the parties, or at any time prior to trial through new requests for supplementation of prior responses.

(f) Contents of Trial Court Orders for Production of Discovery When Defense to Production is a Privilege or the Opinion-work-product Protection. When the defense to production of discovery is any privilege recognized by Arkansas law or the opinion-work-product protection, orders pursuant to Rule of Civil Procedure 37 compelling production of discovery or denying a motion to quash production of materials pursuant to Rule 45 shall be supported by factual findings and shall address the following factors:

(1) the need to prevent irreparable injury;

(2) the likelihood that the claim of privilege or protection would be sustained on appeal;

(3) the likelihood that an immediate appeal would delay a scheduled trial date;

(4) the diligence of the parties in seeking or resisting the discovery in the circuit court;

(5) the circuit court’s written statement of reasons supporting or opposing immediate review; and

(6) any conflict with precedent or other controlling authority as to which there is substantial ground for difference of opinion.

The Supreme Court may, in its discretion, permit an interlocutory appeal from such orders pursuant to Ark. R. App. P.-Civ. 2(f).

Addition to Reporter's Notes, 2006 Amendment: Subdivision (e) has been amended. The amendment strengthens a party's duty to supplement discovery responses with additional or corrected information received after the party's original response. Introductory language stating a general no-duty-to-supplement rule with exceptions has been eliminated. Former subdivisions (e)(1) and (e)(2) have been combined: there is one duty to amend, and amended responses containing supplemental information are one kind of amendment. Former subdivision (e)(3) has been renumbered as new (e)(2) and clarified. The circuit court or the parties may expand the Rule 26(e) duty to supplement. New subdivision (e) in Arkansas Rule of Civil Procedure 37 contains a companion change: if a party fails to supplement discovery responses seasonably, and prejudice results, then the prejudiced party may move for any appropriate sanction from the circuit court.

Addition to Reporter’s Notes, 2007 Amendment: Paragraph (4)(A) of subdivision (b) has been amended to conform the Rule to current practice. Parties routinely depose testifying experts, as they do other witnesses, without first getting a court order allowing the deposition. This amendment eliminates an unnecessary provision that no one was following.

Paragraph (5) has been added to subdivision (b). These provisions protect parties who inadvertently disclose material protected by any evidentiary privilege or doctrine of protection, such as the attorney work product doctrine. This provision draws on the work of the Arkansas Bar Association’s Task Force on the Attorney-Client Privilege, American Bar Association Resolution 120D (adopted by House of Delegates in August 2006), and a 2006 amendment to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26. The Arkansas Bar Association specifically endorsed a similar change in the Arkansas Rule, although its proposal was limited to the attorney-client privilege and the work-product doctrine.

Lawyers do their best to avoid mistakes, but they sometimes happen. Discovery has always posed the risk of the inadvertent production of privileged or protected
material. The advent of electronic discovery has only increased the risk of inadvertent disclosures. This amendment addresses this risk by creating a procedure to evaluate and address inadvertent disclosures, including disputed ones.

Arkansas law on this issue is scarce. In Firestone Tire & Rubber Co. v. Little, 276 Ark. 511, 639 S.W.2d 726 (1982), a letter between two lawyers for Firestone “made its way” to one of Firestone’s customers, who produced the letter in another lawsuit. The Supreme Court held that Firestone waived the privilege by allowing the letter to get into the customer’s hands. 276 Ark. at 519, 639 S.W.2d at 730. The Court, however, did not discuss how the customer obtained the letter or whether Firestone’s disclosure was inadvertent. The Eighth Circuit has endorsed the multifactor approach contained in this Rule as amended. Gray v. Bicknell, 86 F.3d 1472, 1483–84 (8 th Cir. 1996) (predicting in a diversity case that Missouri courts would adopt this approach, which is the majority view).

The new provision creates a presumption against waiver if the disclosing party acts promptly after discovering the inadvertent disclosure. Notice by the disclosing party must be specific about both the material inadvertently disclosed and the privilege or doctrine protecting it. After receiving this kind of notice, a party may neither use nor disclose the specified material. Instead, the receiving party must either return, sequester, or destroy the material (including all copies). A party’s failure to fulfill these obligations will expose that party to sanctions under Rule 37. The new provision also creates a procedure for the receiving party to challenge a notice of inadvertent disclosure and a procedure for the circuit court to resolve the dispute. This procedure, which requires the court to consider all the material circumstances, “strikes the appropriate balance” and is “best suited to achieving a fair result.” Gray, 86 F.2d at 1484.

Addition to Reporter's Notes, 2012 Amendment: Subdivision (f) is added to correspond with new Ark. R. App. P.--Civil 2(f). That rule of appellate procedure gives the Arkansas Supreme Court discretion to grant permission to take an interlocutory appeal of an order under Ark. R. Civ. P. 37 compelling production of materials or information or an order under Ark. R. Civ. P. 45 denying a motion to quash production of materials for which a privilege or opinion-work-product is claimed. To help ensure development of an adequate record for the Supreme Court’s consideration of whether to allow an appeal, new Rule 26(f) requires the trial court to make factual findings and address the guideline factors (a) through (f).

 

Associated Court Rules: 
Rules of Civil Procedure
Group Title: 
V. Depositions and Discovery