Ohio Civil Discovery Rules Reform
In 2019, the Supreme Court of Ohio amended civil rule 6, streamlining deadlines in state courts. The amended rule established statewide uniform deadlines for civil motions, superseding the various Ohio local courts’ deadlines and creating consistency across jurisdictions.
Effective July 2020, significant changes to Ohio civil rules 16 and 26 include the adoption of proportionality into the scope of discovery, requiring automatic initial disclosures, and mandating court-issued schedule orders.
Ohio rules now mandate initial disclosures to accelerate the exchange of information earlier in the case. The new rules also contemplate greater judicial involvement with court-issued scheduling orders. The parties filing discovery plans will have greater input into scheduling orders; however, Ohio courts are ultimately responsible for issuing scheduling orders. If no party has filed a discovery plan, courts will issue a scheduling order sua sponte.
Ohio’s rule 26 incorporates proportionality with almost identical federal language, recognizing that electronically stored information has become increasingly common. Ohio also amends rules for expert witness disclosures, requiring—for the first time—that experts expected to testify provide a written report for the bases of their opinions, potentially alleviating the need for expert witness depositions and decreasing litigation costs. Ohio’s new rules promote best practices for consistency, transparency, and predictability, while maintaining forward momentum in cases.