Hamm v. Liberty Life Assurance Company of Boston
RULE 26 INSTRUCTION ORDER. Signed by Magistrate Judge R. Stan Baker on 7/7/2017. (csr)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF GEORGIA
Choose an item. DIVISION
CIVIL ACTION NO.: 5:17-cv-85
LIBERTY LIFE ASSURANCE
COMPANY OF BOSTON,
RULE 26 INSTRUCTION ORDER
The above captioned case having recently been filed in this Court, the Court issues the
following Order to provide instructions to the parties regarding their initial discovery obligations
and to institute initial case management proceedings.
Rule 26(f) Conference
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26(f) requires the parties to confer, develop a proposed
discovery plan, and submit a report to this Court. Subsequent to the filing of the report, a
Scheduling Order must be entered pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 16(b). Therefore,
by the earlier of (1) sixty (60) days after any defendant has been served with the complaint;
or (2 ) forty-five (45) days after any defendant has appeared, the parties shall confer as
provided in Rule 26(f). See L.R. 26.1(a).1
During the Rule 26(f) Conference, the parties shall discuss the nature and bases of their
claims and defenses, the possibilities for a prompt settlement or resolution of the case, and the
The Rule 26(f) Conference may be held telephonically and should be attended by any unrepresented
parties and counsel for any represented parties.
scope, type, manner, and costs of discovery. The parties shall also make or arrange for the
disclosures required by Rule 26(a)(l), and develop their joint proposed scheduling/discovery
plan. These are only the minimum requirements for the meeting. The parties are encouraged to
have a comprehensive discussion and are required to approach the meeting cooperatively and in
good faith. The discussion of claims and defenses shall be a substantive, meaningful discussion.
In addressing settlement or early resolution of the case, counsel are required to explore the
feasibility of alternative dispute resolution not only between themselves, but with their clients as
Rule 26 Report
Within fourteen (14) days after the required conference held pursuant to Rule 26(f), the
parties shall submit to the Court a written Report of their Conference that outlines their discovery
plan. See L.R. 26.1(b). The Report shall conform to the language and format of the Form Rule
26(f) Report for use in Chief Judge Wood/Judge Baker Rule cases located on the Court’s website
www.gas.uscourts.gov under “Forms.”
The parties should use that Form as well as this
Instruction Order to guide their discussion at their Rule 26(f) Conference. The parties should
work together to prepare this Report, and the deadlines in the Report should be mutually
agreeable, with a view to achieving resolution of the case with a minimum of expense and delay.
To the extent the parties cannot agree on an item in the Report, they should so indicate on the
Report. A party who cannot gain the cooperation of any other party in preparing the Rule 26(f)
Report should advise the Court prior to the due date of the Report of the other party’s failure to
Should any party seek a stay of discovery or of their obligation to file the Rule 26 Report,
or seek the extension of any other deadline in this case (including an extension of discovery or of
a deadline to respond to a motion or file any other pleading), the party should first contact all
other parties and determine if the other parties join in, consent to, or oppose the request. When
filing the motion for an extension, the party requesting the extension must state in their motion
whether the other parties join in, consent to, or oppose the request for a stay or an extension.
Electronically Stored Information
During the Rule 26(f) Conference, the parties shall specifically discuss the preservation
and production of electronically stored information. That discussion shall include, as to each
a. What electronic sources and records the party maintains and how the party’s
electronic data and records are stored;
b. The electronic sources and records each party will search, and the method of search
that will be used (including any search terms);
c. The difficulty/ease of retrieving various data and information, and who will bear the
costs of retrieval and production;
d. The format and media agreed to by the parties for the production of electronically
stored information (including any production of meta-data) as well as agreed
procedures for such production;
e. The persons most familiar with the party’s computer and electronic storage system
and the persons who are responsible for preservation of electronically stored
information, including any third parties who may have access to or control over any
f. Whether reasonable measures have been implemented to preserve data including the
party’s document retention/destruction policy, whether the party has placed a
“litigation hold” preventing destruction of potentially relevant records, and whether
the issuance of a preservation order is required; and
g. The extent to which search and disclosure of electronic data should be limited to that
which is available in the normal course of business, or otherwise, and the anticipated
scope, cost, and time required for search and disclosure of such information beyond
that which is available in the normal course of business.
Privileged, Protected, and/or Confidential Information
During the Rule 26(f) Conference, the parties shall discuss specifically the discovery and
production of privileged, protected, and/or confidential information.
That discussion shall
a. What methods the parties will employ to assert claims of privilege, protection, or
confidentiality, including the form and substance of any privilege logs;
b. Whether the parties anticipate discovery issues or challenges arising from nondisclosure of allegedly privileged, protected, or confidential information;
c. Whether reasonable date ranges should be established after which privilege log
entries for privileged, protected, or confidential information need not be made;
d. Whether the parties will request a protective order to prevent the further release of
information disclosed in discovery; and
e. As contemplated by Rule 502(e) of the Federal Rules of Evidence, whether there is a
need for the terms of any agreement regarding disclosure of privileged attorneyparty communications or confidential work product to be incorporated into a court
order, and whether the parties will seek court approval of any such agreement.
The Court may hold a Scheduling Conference after receipt of the parties’ Rule 26(f)
Report and before issuing a Scheduling Order. At that conference, the Court will discuss in
detail the parties’ proposed discovery plan and scheduling order as well as any issues the parties
raise in their Rule 26(f) Report. This Conference need only be attended by counsel and by any
unrepresented parties. The Court requires that lead counsel and any unrepresented parties attend
the Scheduling Conference in person but will allow appearance via telephone upon a showing of
good cause. The Scheduling Conference should be held no more than twenty (20) days after the
submission of the parties’ Rule 26 Report.
Form of Electronic Filings
The parties are directed to read and follow the Court’s revised Administrative Procedures
for Filing, Signing, and Verifying Pleadings and Papers by Electronic Means, available on the
Court’s website, www.gas.uscourts.gov. Documents in their native format such as Word or
WordPerfect must be converted into a text-searchable PDF before filing. Most word processing
applications allow publishing or converting to PDF within the application. There are also
commercial and free PDF converters available for use. Participants should not print and scan
electronic documents for submission into CM/ECF. Documents should not be scanned prior to
e-filing unless the original documents are unavailable in electronic format or require original
signature. Attachments not available in electronic format shall be scanned by the filer into PDF
format for electronic submission. The participant is responsible for the legibility of the uploaded
image. For assistance with conversion or scanning, contact the CM/ECF Helpdesk at 912-6504010 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Resolution of Discovery Disputes
It is hereby ORDERED that the following steps be undertaken by all parties prior to the
filing of any discovery motions including, but not limited to, a motion to compel, motion to
quash, motion for a protective order, or motion for sanctions.
1. The parties are strongly encouraged to informally resolve all discovery issues and
disputes without the necessity of Court intervention. In that regard, the parties are first
required to confer and fully comply with Rules 26(c)(1) and 37(a)(2) of the Federal Rules
of Civil Procedure, and Local Rule 26.5, by undertaking a sincere, good faith effort to try
to resolve all differences without Court action or intervention.
2. In the event that reasonable, good faith efforts have been made by all parties to confer
and attempt to resolve any differences, without success, the parties are then required to
schedule a telephonic conference with the Magistrate Judge in an effort to try to resolve
the discovery dispute prior to the filing of any motions.2 The parties shall exhaust the
first two steps of the process before any motions, briefs, memorandums of law, exhibits,
deposition transcripts, or any other discovery materials are filed with the Court.
3. If the dispute still cannot be resolved following a telephonic conference with the
Magistrate Judge, then the Court will entertain a discovery motion. In connection with
the filing of any such motions, the moving party shall submit the appropriate
certifications to the Court as required by Federal Rules of Civil Procedure Rules 26(c)(1)
4. The Court will refuse to hear any discovery motion unless the parties have made a
sincere, good faith effort to resolve the dispute and all of the above-identified steps have
been strictly complied with. A failure to fully comply with all of the prerequisite steps
may result in a denial of any motion with prejudice and may result in an award of costs
and reasonable attorney’s fees.
The parties may schedule such a conference by contacting the Magistrate Judge’s Courtroom Deputy
Plaintiff’s counsel, or if applicable, the pro se plaintiff, shall ensure that a copy of this
Order is served upon all parties without delay.
7th day of January, 2017.
SO ORDERED, this 31stday of July, 2017
R. STAN BAKER
UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF GEORGIA
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