3–1. Discovery Rules. In the past, the rules of discovery were very restrictive, and trials often turned on elements of surprise. For example, a plaintiff would not necessar- ily know until the trial what the defendant’s defense was going to be. In the last several decades, however, new rules of discovery have substantially changed this situa- tion. Now each attorney can access practically all of the evidence that the other side intends to present at trial, with the exception of certain information—namely, the opposing attorney’s work product. Work product is not a precise concept. Basically, it includes all of the attorney’s thoughts on the case. Can you see any reason why such information should not be made available to the opposing attorney? Discuss fully. (See page 58.)
3–2. Motions. When and for what purpose is each of the following motions made? Which of them would be appro- priate if a defendant claimed that the only issue between the parties was a question of law and that the law was favorable to the defendant’s position? (See page 55.)
(a) A motion for judgment on the pleadings. (b) A motion for a directed verdict.
(c) A motion for summary judgment.
(d) A motion for judgment n.o.v.
3–3. Motion for a New Trial. Washoe Medical Center, Inc., admitted Shirley Swisher for the treatment of a fractured pelvis. During her stay, Swisher suffered a fatal fall from her hospital bed. Gerald Parodi, the administrator of her estate, and others filed an action against Washoe seeking damages for the alleged lack of care in treating Swisher. During voir dire, when the plaintiffs’ attorney returned a few minutes late from a break, the trial judge led the
3–5. Discovery. Rita Peatie filed a suit in a Connecticut state court against Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., to recover for injuries to her head, neck, and shoulder. Peatie claimed that she had been struck two years earlier by a metal cyl- inder falling from a store ceiling. The parties agreed to nonbinding arbitration. Ten days before the hearing, the plaintiff asked for, and was granted, four more months to conduct discovery. On the morning of the rescheduled hearing, she asked for more time, but the court denied this request. The hearing was held, and the arbitrator ruled in Wal-Mart’s favor. Peatie filed a motion for a new trial, which was granted. Five months later, she sought through discovery to acquire any photos, records, and reports held by Wal-Mart regarding her alleged injury. The court issued a “protective order” against the request, stating that the time for discovery had long been over. On the day of the trial—four years after the alleged injury—the plaintiff asked the court to lift the order. Should the court do so?
prospective jurors in a standing ovation. The judge joked with one of the prospective jurors, whom he had known in college, about his fitness to serve as a judge and person- ally endorsed another prospective juror’s business. After the trial, the jury returned a verdict in favor of Washoe. The plaintiffs moved for a new trial, but the judge denied the motion. The plaintiffs then appealed, arguing that the tone set by the judge during voir dire prejudiced their right to a fair trial. Should the appellate court agree? Why or why not? (See page 67.)
3–4. Discovery. Advance Technology Consultants, Inc. (ATC), contracted with RoadTrac, LLC., to provide soft- ware and client software systems for the products of global positioning satellite (GPS) technology being developed by RoadTrac. RoadTrac agreed to provide ATC with hardware with which ATC’s software would interface. Problems soon arose, however. ATC claimed that RoadTrac’s hardware was defective, making it difficult to develop the software. RoadTrac contended that its hardware was fully functional and that ATC had simply failed to provide supporting soft- ware. ATC told RoadTrac that it considered their contract terminated. RoadTrac filed a suit in a Georgia state court against ATC alleging breach of contract. During discovery, RoadTrac requested ATC’s customer lists and marketing procedures. ATC objected to providing this information because RoadTrac and ATC had become competitors in the GPS industry. Should a party to a lawsuit have to hand over its confidential business secrets as part of a discovery request? Why or why not? What limitations might a court consider imposing before requiring ATC to produce this material? (See page 58.)