Southern District of Illinois Strikes Portions of Pre-Trial Disclosures Containing Vague, Boilerplate Language; Parties Have No Right to Reserve Use of Un-Named Discovery U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois, February 12, 2016
In four different rulings in the same case, the Southern District of Illinois struck portions of pre-trial disclosures filed by the plaintiff and various defendants. In their pre-trial disclosures, defendants Ingersoll-Rand, Viking Pumps, and Excelsior identified no witnesses and reserved the right to call numerous un-named witnesses at trial. The plaintiff also reserved the right to call numerous un-named witnesses at trial.
The court cited Rule 26: “Under Rule 26(a)(3), pretrial disclosures must (emphasis added) include: ‘(i) the name and, if not previously provided, the address and telephone number of each witness…(ii) the designation of those witnesses whose testimony the party expects to present by deposition…and (iii) an identification of each document or other exhibit, including summaries of other evidence — separately identifying those items the party expects to offer…’ Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(a)(3)(A).” If a party fails to provide information as required by Rule 26, that party was not allowed to use this information unless the failure was substantially justified or harmless. This sanction of exclusion was mandated by Rule 37(c). The court found: “The vague and boilerplate identification of categories of potential witnesses is insufficient and inconsistent with the spirit and purpose of Rule 26.” Further, this failure to comply was neither substantially justified nor harmless.
Parties could not reserve rights they did not have under Rule 26. The plaintiff, Ingersoll-Rand, Viking Pumps, and Excelsior were prohibited from presenting any witnesses live or by deposition testimony at trial that were not in compliance with Rule 26. Further, the court struck portions of the exhibit lists filed Ingersoll-Rand, Viking Pumps, and Excelsior for failure to comply with Rule 26.