Anatomy of a Lawsuit, Part 4: Discovery / Disclosure

Plaintiff has filed and served their Complaint, and the Defendant has either filed their Answer, or made a motion to dismiss which the Court has denied. At this point, we enter the most involved, costly, and time-consuming stage of litigation: Discovery (“Disclosure” in New York practice). 

(If this were a cross-country road trip from New York City to Los Angeles, we have gassed up our car, driven over the George Washington Bridge, paid the applicable tolls, had a snack, and have entered the “open road.”)

It is what these names imply: each side is permitted to learn, or “discover,” information, facts, and documents held by the other side. “Trial by ambush” – that plot device driving so many law-related shows – is not a thing. 

; its purpose to avoid “trial by ambush” that often functions as a plot device for law-related shows.

Discovery methods include:

  • Demands for Documents
  • Interrogatories
  • Requests for Admissions
  • Depositions
  • Physical Examinations
  • Premises Inspections

Motion practice may be necessary if a party wishes to (a) compel discovery that the other side resists producing, or (b) protect certain items (via a “protective order”) from discovery.

In New York practice, discovery formally concludes with the filing of a “Note of Issue” stating that all discovery is complete. 

Next: Summary Judgment.

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