Legal Memorandum: Scope of pretrial discovery

Issue: Under Illinois law, what are the parameters of pretrial discovery?

Area of Law: Litigation Practice & Procedure, Litigation Practice and Procedure
Keywords: ; Pretrial; Discovery; Disclosure; Scope; Objective; Relevance; Materiality; Party
Jurisdiction: Illinois
Cited Cases: None
Cited Statutes: None
Date: 01/01/2016

[regref]Illinois Supreme Court Rule 201(b)(1) (eff. July 1, 2002)[/regref] establishes the scope of permissible pretrial discovery and provides:  

"[A] party may obtain by discovery full disclosure regarding any matter relevant to the subject matter involved in the pending action, whether it relates to the claim or defense of the party seeking disclosure or of any other party, including the existence, description, nature, custody, condition, and location of any documents or tangible things, and the identity and location of persons having knowledge of relevant facts."

Rule 201(b)(1) is founded on the basic premise that the objective of discovery is the expeditious and final determination of controversies in accordance with the substantive rights of the parties. Manns v. Briell, 349 Ill.App.3d 358, 360-61 (2004). Discovery should be used only to illuminate the actual issues in the case. Id. at 361.

The trial court is given great latitude in determining the scope of discovery, because the range of relevance and materiality for discovery purposes includes not only what is admissible at trial but also that which leads to what is admissible at trial. Martinez v. Pfizer Laboratories Division, 216 Ill.App.3d 360, 365-66 (1991). Although the scope of permissible discovery is indeed broad, it is not unlimited; the court, in exercising its discretion, must balance "the needs of truth and excessive burden to the litigants." Welton v. Ambrose, 351 Ill.App.3d 627, 633 (2004). A reviewing court will not disturb a discovery order absent […]