University of Denver

Northern District of Illinois Mandatory Initial Discovery Pilot Project

The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois has begun a three-year pilot project to study whether standard initial discovery requests can reduce the costs of civil litigation. The project is known as the Mandatory Initial Discovery Pilot Project (MIDP). This project applies to cases filed on or after June 1, 2017.

The Standing Order requires parties to disclose both favorable and unfavorable information that is relevant to their claims and defenses, regardless of the parties’ intent to use the information. This Order is more robust than the initial disclosures that are currently required under Rule 26(a)(1). It also requires the parties to provide notice of service to the court so that the court can monitor for compliance. The Standing Order requires mandatory participation for all civil cases in the pilot project, except those specifically exempted by the Standing Order.

On December 1, 2018, the Court issued an Amended Standing Order for the second half of the pilot project to provide more flexibility in requiring mandatory discovery if a motion to dismiss is filed. Section A4 of the Amended Order and the “MIDP changes effective December 1, 2018” clarify that the thirty-day mandatory discovery responses deadline starts after the responsive pleading timeframe set out in Fed.R.C.P. 12(a), or, upon entry of a court’s order deciding a motion to dismiss. This change was made in response to comments about MIDP imposing unnecessary costs on parties who succeeded on Rule 12 motions.

The Federal Judicial Center (FJC) has compiled an updated checklist of the pilot project requirements to assist the parties, videos that introduce the pilots and speak to their purpose, as well as a user’s manual that talks about the key features of the MIDP.

A similar pilot project has begun in Arizona.

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