Civil Litigation

  1. Discovery
    The  pre-trial devices that can be used by one party to obtain facts and information about the case from the other party in order to assist in the party’s preparation for trial.
  2. Characteristics of Discovery

         •No  Mandatory  Sequence

         •Can Be Used More Than Once

    • •Minimal Judicial Involvement
    •    •Most Discovery Requires No
    •   Judicial Approval 
    •    •Court’s Role Is To Protect
    •   Against Abuse
    •       – Protective Orders  [WIS. STAT. § 804.01(3)]
    •        –Order Compelling Discovery
    •   [WIS. STAT. § 804.12]

    •Discovery Orders Not Appealable

         •Only Final Orders Are Appealable

          •Discovery Orders Are Not Final Orders
  3. Scope Of Discovery
    *Not Privileged


    *Special Statutory Rules
  4. Scope of Discovery
    **Privileges Block Discovery


  5. Relevant: [WIS. STAT. § 804.01(2)(a)]
    Is reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence.
  6. Special Statutory Rules
    • *Insurance [WIS. STAT. § 804.01(2)(b)]
    • *Trial Preparation
    •      •Materials [WIS. STAT. § 804.01(2)(c)]
    •      •Experts [WIS. STAT. § 804.01(2)(d)]
    • *Statements  [WIS. STAT. § 804.01(2)(c)(2)]
  7. Insurance Agreements
    A party may obtain discovery of the existence and contents of any insurance agreement under which liability to satisfy a judgement may exist. Disclosure  does not make the information automatically admissible at trial.
  8. Trial Preparation Materials [WIS. STAT. § 804.01(2)(c)]
    *Qualified Work Product  Privilege

        *Substantial Need

        *Undue Hardship

        *Substantial Equivalent

    *Absolute Work Product Privilege

        *Mental Impressions



        *Legal Theory
  9. Work Product
    Privilege Applies To
    Attorneys And
  10. Trial Preparation: Experts
    *Testifying Experts-Discoverable

    •        *Interrogatories
    •        *Deposition

    *Consulting Experts-Qualified Discovery

        *Discoverable Under Exceptional Circumstances When Impractical To Obtain Facts Or Opinions By Other Means.

    *Informally Consulted Experts-Not Discoverable
  11. Statements
    Parties and non-parties are entitled to their own  statements.

    • *Written & signed
    • *Stenographic
    • *Mechanical
    • *Electrical or 
    •       Other recording or transcription
  12. Functions of Discovery
    • *Narrow Issues For Trial
    •     *Prima Facie Case
    •     *Motion For Partial Summary Judgement
    •     *Stipulations [WIS. STAT. § 804.04]
    •         •Written agreement
    •         •Between Opposing Counsel
    •         •Dispenses with need to formally   prove uncontested facts

    • *Avoid Surprises
    •       Discover Opponents Supporting Facts.
    • *Assess Credibility Of Witness
    •     *Eye Contact 
    •     *Body Language
    •     *Consistency
    • *Reveal Strengths and Weaknesses
    •      *Witnesses 
    •      *Documents
    •      *Legal Theory
    • *Promote Settlement
    •        More than 90% of civil lawsuits settle before trial.
    • *Preserve Evidence
    •     *Memory Loss 
    •     *Witness Unavailable
    •         •Death
    •         •Out of Country
    • *Promote Consistency
    •     *Compare
    •         •Witness Statement
    •         •Deposition
    •         •Trial Testimony
    •     *Impeachment
  13. Types Of Discovery

    •   *Written Questions
    •   *Directed At Parties Only
    •   *Answered Under Oath
    • *Request For Production

    •    *Documents
    •    *Tangible Things
    •    *Entry Upon Designated Land

    •     *Produce
    •     *Inspect & Copy
    •     *Test or Sample
    •     *Measure & Survey
    •     *Reasonable Time, Place & Manner
    •     *Subpoena Non-Parties


    wOral Depositions

    •     •Oral Testimony
    •       •Under Oath 
    •       •Parties & Non-Parties
    •       •Court Reporter or Videotape

        *Written Depositions

    *Mental & Physical Exams

    • *Parties Only
    • *Includes
    •     •Physical
    •     •Mental
    •     •Blood group
    •     •Vocation

    *Request For Admissions

    • *Parties Only
    • *Written Request To Admit Or Deny Statements
    • *If Not Denied Automatically Deemed Admitted!
    • *Only 30 Days-Tickler Upon Receipt
  14. Depositions:
    Common Paralegal Tasks
    • 1.Schedule Depositions
    • 2.Gather and Prepare Documents for use at the Deposition
    • 3.Notice the Deposition and Subpoena Non-party and Out of State Defendants
    •   (Remember: The Notice of Deposition has the force of a Subpoena for all “Parties” except Out of State Defendants)
    • 4.  Attend Deposition to Assist with Exhibits and take notes

    • 5.Draft Potential Deposition Questions
    • 6.Abstract the Deposition for use at Trial
    • 7.Identify Potential Deponents e.g. cow expert
    • 8.Prepare the Deponent for the Deposition
    • a.Inform the deponent about the types of questions which may be asked
    • b.Educate the deponent about the deposition process
    • c.It is unethical to tell a witness what to say
  15. Use of Depositions at Trial:
    Wis. Stat. 804.07(1)
    • a.For the Purpose of Contradicting or Impeaching the Testimony of the Deponent as a Witness
    • b.The Deposition of a Party or of an Officer, Director, ect… of an Entity which is a Party, may be used by an Adverse Party for any Purpose

    • c.The Deposition of a Witness other than a Medical Expert, whether or not a Party, may be used by any Party for any Purpose if the Court finds:
    • •The witness is dead
    • •The witness is more than 30 miles from where the trial is being held/ can’t pay the witness to be absent
    • •The age, illness, infirmity or imprisonment prevent the witness from testifying
    • •Unable to Subpoena the witness
    • •Upon application and notice the judge allows the deposition to be used instead of live testimony: exceptional circumstances/ interest of justice
  16. Use of Depositions at Trial:
    Wis. Stat. 804.07(1)(c)(2)
    The Deposition of a Medical Expert can be Used by any Party for any Purpose, the Restrictions Listed in Wis. Stat. 804.07(1)(c)(1) Don’t Apply
  17. Request for Production:
    Wis. Stat. 804.09
    • There are 3 Categories of Things which a Request for Production can be Used to Obtain:
    • 1.Documents
    • 2.Entry onto Land
    • 3.Tangible Items
  18. Documents Include
    • •Writings 
    • •Drawings
    • •Graphs
    • •Charts
    • •Photographs
    • •Phono-records
    • •Data Compilations
  19. Entry onto Land: The Land must be in the Control of the Party Whom the Request is Made of.
    • •Inspection
    • •Measuring
    • •Surveying

    • •Photographing
    • •Testing
    • •Sampling
  20. Tangible Items: Must be in the Custody, Possession, and Control of the Party to Whom the Request is Made.
    • •Inspect
    • •Copy
    • •Test
    • •Sample
  21. Chain of Custody
    The Process of Establishing Where an Item has been (i.e. in whose custody) from the Time of the Incident until the Time of the Trial.

      Receipt: If you Transfer Custody of an Item from one Person to Another a Receipt is Required (e.g. Expert Witness Tests the Toaster).
  22. Request for Production:
    Potential Responses
    • •Produce Item/ Redact Document if Appropriate
    • •Make Available to Adverse Party for Inspection…at a Reasonable Time, Place and Manner
    • •Objection to Request for Production/ Must State Grounds for Objection
    • •General Rule: 30 Days to Respond
    • •Exception: 45 days to Respond
  23. Redact: Means to Black Out
     Privileged or Confidential Information
    • •Never Mark on the Original
    • •Make two Copies of the Document to be Redacted
    • •Black out Privileged or Confidential Information
    • •Have Supervising Attorney Review Redacted Document
    • •Photocopy Final Version of Redacted Document to Forward to Requesting Party
    • •Retain Original and Redacted Document in File
  24. Discovery of Electronically Stored Data
    • •Written Request To Admit or To          Deny Statements, Opinions of Fact, or the Application of Law to Fact
    • •Written Request To Admit or To          Deny Genuineness of Documents – serve documents with request unless they have otherwise been made available for inspection and copying
  25. Requests For Admission   
    Wis. Stat. §804.11(1)(a)
    • •Written Request To Admit or To          Deny Statements, Opinions of Fact, or the Application of Law to Fact
    • •Written Request To Admit or To          Deny Genuineness of Documents – serve documents with request unless they have otherwise been made available for inspection and copying
  26. Requests For Admission 
    Wis. Stat. §804.11(1)(a
    • •May be utilized with parties only
    • •Unlike depositions, requests for admission may not be used prior to commencement of the litigation

    • •If not denied, then automatically deemed admitted.
    • •This means that those facts need not be proven at trial.
    • •Important Paralegal Task: Proper Calendaring and Docket Control
  27. Requests For Admission  

                Wis. Stat. §804.11(1)(b)
    • •General Rule: 30 days to respond
    • •Exception : If served at the same time as the Summons and Complaint, then have 45 days to respond
    • •Example: Collection Case                                   
    •    Amount of loan, amount of the interest, the date of default, acceleration clause, and the total amount due did not have to be proven because the other party did not respond to Request for Admission.            
  28. Requests For Admission

                  Wis. Stat. §804.11(1)(b)

    Five Possible Responses
    • •Admit
    • •Deny
    • •Admit in part, deny in part
    • •Objection: must specify grounds
    • •Neither admit or deny: After a reasonable inquiry argue that you have insufficient information or knowledge to form a belief.
  29. Requests For Admission              Wis. Stat. §804.11(2)
    •What is the legal effect of a Request For Admission?  The fact is considered “conclusively established” and does not need to be proven at trial.Exception: Can make a motion requesting a withdrawal or amendment of the admission.
  30. Physical and Mental Examination                  Wis. Stat. §804.10
    • •Parties only
    • •Right to have an expert of your own choosing evaluate the opposing party
    • •Exams include:
    • –Physical
    • –Mental
    • –Blood group
    • –Vocational
  31. Physical and Mental Examination                  Wis. Stat. §804.10
    • •Practical Paralegal Point: You may not contact the adverse party directly. All communication must go through the adverse party’s attorney.
    • •Most exams are arranged informally by calling opposing counsel and sending a confirming letter.
    • •If an informal approach is unsuccessful make a motion for a court-ordered exam under Wis. Stat. §804.10(1).
  32. Physical and Mental Examination                  Wis. Stat. §804.10Paralegal Tasks
    • •Locate an “Expert” to conduct the exam
    • •Schedule exam
    • •Draft documents – e.g. Motion for Compulsory Physical Exam
    • •Some courts have allowed paralegals to attend the exam when their own client is being examined. e.g. Colorado case under FRCP 35 argued that the exam was more adversarial than medical. See p374
  33. Physical and Mental Examination                  Wis. Stat. §804.10
    • •Wis. Stat. §804.10(2) entitles parties to inspect and copy “relevant” medical, hospital and other records & reports (including x-rays)
    • •Obtain Medical Release Forms (HIPPA)
    • •Obtain medical records and forward to physician conducting exam
    • •Summarize medical records
  34. Physical and Mental Examination                  Wis. Stat. §804.10(3)(a)
    • •No evidence obtained by an adverse party by a court-ordered exam or inspection of records can be used at trial unless:
    • –A copy of the report is provided to the adverse party within 10 days of receipt.
    • –In return, the party claiming damages shall deliver copies of all reports of persons who have examined or treated the claimant for their injuries.
  35. Professional Courtesy
    • •Comply with most discovery requests informally
    • •Court’s role is to protect against abuse
    • •Wis. Stat. §804.12
    •   –Motion To Compel
    •   –Motion For Sanctions
    •       •Contempt of Court
    •       •Order striking pleadings
    •       •Dismiss case
    •       •Pay expenses, including attorneys fees
  36. Expert Witnesses
    • •Lay A Foundation
    •   –Experience
    •   –Training
    •   –Education

    Opinion Testimony: Doctor to a reasonable degree of medical certainty do you have an opinion as to the permanent nature of the plaintiff’s disability?
  37. Lay Witnesses
    • •Lay a foundation
    •    –Ask the witness where they were on the day and time of the accident.
    •    –What if anything did you observe at that time?
    • •Personal knowledge regarding the facts you are being asked to testify about.
    •    –I saw…
    •    –I heard…
    •    –I smelled…
Card Set
Civil Litigation