Oklahoma Adopts Several Key 2015 Federal Rule Amendments
In February 2017, a bill was introduced in the Oklahoma State Legislature, HB1570, to amend Title 12 of the Oklahoma Statutes concerning the “Code of Civil Procedure of the State of Oklahoma.” The goal of the legislation was to largely mirror the 2015 amendments to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (FRCP) so that the rules would be “construed, administered and employed by courts and parties to secure the just, speedy and inexpensive determination of every action.”
In particular, the enrolled version of the bill introduced proportionality language into the scope of discovery in section 3226(B)(1)(a) to mirror in part the language of FRCP 26(b)(2). The language of the bill states that “[p]arties may obtain discovery regarding any matter, not privileged, which is relevant to any party’s claim or defense, reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence and proportional to the needs of the case.” Oklahoma’s approach diverges from the federal language in that it includes the reasonably calculated language, which was specifically removed as part of the 2015 federal amendments. The statute includes a list of factors that should be considered when determining whether the evidence is proportional to the needs of the case. Section 3226(C)(1) also was amended to explicitly authorize a court to allocate discovery expenses.
Additional changes to the Oklahoma Rules of Civil Procedure include an amendment to Section 3234(B)(2)(b) and (c) to require specificity in discovery responses regarding objections and admissions to the discovery request. Amendments to subsections (d) and (e) mirror the form of production for electronically stored information that is found in FRCP 34(b)(2)(E).
Section 3225, a parallel to FRCP Rule 1, was also amended to note the Discovery Code should be “construed, administered and employed by courts and parties to secure the just, speedy and inexpensive determination of every action.”
The bill was sent to the Governor on May 26, 2017, and approved on June 6, 2017. The revisions to the civil rules went into effect on November 1, 2017.