Post Process

Everything to do with E-discovery & ESI

AL Case Blurb: Ex Parte Vulcan Materials; Limits on the Scope of Discovery

Posted by rjbiii on June 21, 2008

Post Process-This is a Case Blurb from the State of Alabama, whose laws regarding discovery will differ from those of the Federal Courts.

“‘The first step in determining whether the court has [exceeded] its discretion is to determine the particularized need for discovery, in light of the nature of the claim.'” Ex parte Henry, 770 So. 2d 76, 80 (Ala. 2000) (quoting Ex parte Rowland, 669 So. 2d 125, 127 (Ala. 1995) (emphasis added)). To be relevant to a constitutionally sanctioned punitive-damages review, any extraterritorial conduct of the defendant “must have a nexus to the specific harm suffered by the plaintiff.” Campbell, 538 U.S. at 422 (emphasis added). An action in one state may not be “used as a platform to expose, and punish, the perceived deficiencies of [a defendant’s] operations throughout the country.” Campbell, 538 U.S. at 420. “A defendant’s dissimilar acts, independent from the acts upon which liability was premised, may not serve as the basis for punitive damages. A defendant should be punished for the conduct that harmed the plaintiff ….” 538 U.S. at 422-23. This is so, because, “as a general rule,” a State does not “have a legitimate concern in imposing punitive damages to punish defendants for unlawful acts committed outside of the State’s jurisdiction.” 538 U.S. at 421. Thus, a litigant may not seek to support a punitive-damages award through discovery aimed at generic, undelineated out-of-state conduct.


Furthermore, discovery requests must generally be subject to reasonable temporal limitations. In Ex parte Orkin, we said:

“No bright line exists concerning the maximum period over which a litigant should be required to search for records. The length of that period depends on whether the records being searched are ‘relevant to the subject matter involved in the dispute.’ Rule 26(b)(1), Ala. R. Civ. P.; 8 Wright, Miller & Marcus, Federal Practice and Procedure § 2008 (1994). Even then, a litigant in a fraud action must show a substantial need for discovery of records that concern transactions with nonparties, that are older than five years, and that do not directly relate to the litigant’s own claim or defense.”

Ex parte Vulcan Materials Co., 2008 Ala. LEXIS 79, 19-20 (Ala. Apr. 25, 2008 )

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