Legal Memorandum: Pre-trial Discovery in MN

Issue: What information is deemed relevant in pre-trial discovery under Minnesota law?

Area of Law: Litigation & Procedure
Keywords: Pre-trial discovery; Relevant information
Jurisdiction: Federal, Minnesota
Cited Cases: None
Cited Statutes: Rule 26(b)(1)
Date: 07/01/2012

Discovery is intended to uncover facts relating to claims and defenses in an action.  Since 2000, Rule 26 has mandated a “two-tier discovery process.”  The first category of discovery, managed by the parties, “permits discovery regarding any unprivileged matter relevant to any party’s claim or defense.”  6 Moore’s Federal Practice §26.41[a], at 26-152; see Rule 26(b)(1) advisory committee’s note to 2000 amendments (hereinafter “Rule 26(b)(1) committee note”) (“the amendments describe the scope of party-controlled discovery in terms of matter relevant to the claim or defense of any party”).  The second category permits a court, for good cause, to order discovery of any matter relevant to the subject matter involved in the action.  “The 2000 Amendments thus narrowed the scope of discovery available without a court order.”  6 Moore’s Federal Practice § 26.41[1], at 26-152 (emphasis added); see Rule 26(b)(1) committee note. 

The current rule focuses party-controlled discovery to “matters relevant to any party’s claim or defense,” so “[a] court resolving a discovery dispute on the ground of relevance must, under the 2000 amendments, focus on the specific claim or defense alleged in the pleadings.”  6 Moore’s Federal Practice § 26[2][a], at 26-155 to -156.  The committee note states:

Under the amended provisions, if there is an objection that discovery goes beyond material relevant to the parties’ claims or defenses, the court would become involved to determine whether the discovery is relevant to the claims or defenses and, if not, whether good cause exists for authorizing it so […]


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