Anti-Biz E-Discovery Bill Defeated in Georgia House

Date: April 06, 2016

Proposal would have increased cost and burden of discovery in civil litigation.

Anti-Biz E-Discovery Bill Defeated in Georgia House

NFIB/Georgia achieved a big victory recently when we helped defeat a bill that would have put small businesses at a serious disadvantage in civil lawsuits.

The legislation, House Bill 1017, dealt with the discovery process in civil litigation. Although the bill sought to specifically amend electronic discovery, its impact would have been more far-reaching, making all discovery more expensive and time-consuming.

HB 1017 would have imposed broad preservation and production obligations for discovery in civil litigation by rejecting the common-sense and widely accepted approach of proportionality. Considering proportionality—the amount at stake in a lawsuit in relation to the cost of requirements like discovery—ensures that litigants don’t spend $100,000 preserving, collecting and producing documents for a case in which $10,000 is stake, for example.

The concept of proportionality was recently reemphasized by new Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, which were enacted in December 2015 after five years of debate, public comment and compromise that included a wide variety of participants and viewpoints. If HB 1017 would have passed, Georgia would have been the first state to reject these reforms that are based on wide consensus.

And without the proportionality approach that HB 1017 would have eliminated, small businesses would have been forced to settle lawsuits—no matter the merit of the case—simply to avoid the costs of defending a lawsuit. Georgia would also have had a harder time attracting and developing industry.

HB 1017’s defeat is great news for small businesses, but the fight may not be over. Nathan Humphrey, NFIB’s Georgia state director, believes this issue may return next session, so keep an eye out for action alerts.

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