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Maryland Rule 2-402 Scope of Discovery (2021)

Maryland Rule 2-402 delineates the scope of discovery in civil cases.  This rule of civil discovery in Maryland lays out of the general procedureal rules.

Maryland Rule 2-402

Unless otherwise limited by order of the court in accordance with these rules, the scope of discovery is as follows:

(a) Generally. A party may obtain discovery regarding any matter that is not privileged, including the existence, description, nature, custody, condition, and location of any documents, electronically stored information, and tangible things and the identity and location of persons having knowledge of any discoverable matter, if the matter sought is relevant to the subject matter involved in the action, whether it relates to the claim or defense of the party seeking discovery or to the claim or defense of any other party. It is not ground for objection that the information sought is already known to or otherwise obtainable by the party seeking discovery or that the information will be inadmissible at the trial if the information sought appears reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence. An interrogatory or deposition question otherwise proper is not objectionable merely because the response involves an opinion or contention that relates to fact or the application of law to fact.

(b) Limitations and Modifications; Electronically Stored Information Not Reasonably Accessible.

(1) Generally. In a particular case, the court, on motion or on its own initiative and after consultation with the parties, by order may limit or modify these rules on the length and number of depositions, the number of interrogatories, the number of requests for production of documents, and the number of requests for admissions. The court shall limit the frequency or extent of use of the discovery methods otherwise permitted under these rules if it determines that (A) the discovery sought is unreasonably cumulative or duplicative or is obtainable from some other source that is more convenient, less burdensome, or less expensive;  (B) the party seeking discovery has had ample opportunity by discovery in the action to obtain the information sought; or  (C) the burden or cost of the proposed discovery outweighs its likely benefit, taking into account the complexity of the case, the amount in controversy, the parties' resources, the importance of the issues at stake in the litigation, and the importance of the proposed discovery in resolving the issues.

(2) Electronically Stored Information Not Reasonably Accessible. A party may decline to provide discovery of electronically stored information on the ground that the sources are not reasonably accessible because of undue burden or cost. A party who declines to provide discovery on this ground shall identify the sources alleged to be not reasonably accessible and state the reasons why production from each identified source would cause undue burden or cost. The statement of reasons shall provide enough detail to enable the requesting party to evaluate the burdens and costs of providing the discovery and the likelihood of finding responsive information in the identified sources. On a motion to compel discovery, the party from whom discovery is sought shall first establish that the information is not reasonably accessible because of undue burden or cost. If that showing is made, the party requesting discovery shall establish that its need for the discovery outweighs the burden and cost of locating, retrieving, and producing the information. If persuaded that the need for discovery does outweigh the burden and cost, the court may order discovery and specify conditions, including an assessment of costs.

Committee note: The term “electronically stored information” has the same broad meaning in this Rule that it has in Rule 2-422, encompassing, without exception, whatever is stored electronically. Subsection (b)(2) addresses the difficulties that may be associated with locating, retrieving, and providing discovery of some electronically stored information. Ordinarily, the reasonable costs of retrieving and reviewing electronically stored information are borne by the responding party. At times, however, the information sought is not reasonably available to the responding party in the ordinary course of business. For example, restoring deleted data, disaster recovery tapes, residual data, or legacy systems may involve extraordinary effort or resources to restore the data to an accessible format. This subsection empowers the court, after considering the factors listed in subsection (b)(1), to shift or share costs if the demand is unduly burdensome because of the nature of the effort involved to comply and the requesting party has demonstrated substantial need or justification. See, The Sedona Conference, The Sedona Principles: Best Practices Recommendations and Principles for Addressing Electronic Document Production, (2d ed. 2007), Principle 13 and related Comment.

(c) Insurance Agreement. A party may obtain discovery of the existence and contents of any insurance agreement under which any person carrying on an insurance business might be liable to satisfy part or all of a judgment that might be entered in the action or to indemnify or reimburse for payments made to satisfy the judgment. Information concerning the insurance agreement is not by reason of disclosure admissible in evidence at trial. For purposes of this section, an application for insurance shall not be treated as part of an insurance agreement.

(d) Work Product. Subject to the provisions of sections (f) and (g) of this Rule, a party may obtain discovery of documents, electronically stored information, and tangible things prepared in anticipation of litigation or for trial by or for another party or by or for that other party's representative (including an attorney, consultant, surety, indemnitor, insurer, or agent) only upon a showing that the materials are discoverable under section (a) of this Rule and that the party seeking discovery has substantial need for the materials in the preparation of the case and is unable without undue hardship to obtain the substantial equivalent of the materials by other means. In ordering discovery of these materials when the required showing has been made, the court shall protect against disclosure of the mental impressions, conclusions, opinions, or legal theories of an attorney or other representative of a party concerning the litigation.

(e) Claims of Privilege or Protection.

(1) Information Withheld. A party who withholds information on the ground that it is privileged or subject to protection shall describe the nature of the documents, electronically stored information, communications, or things not produced or disclosed in a manner that, without revealing the privileged or protected information, will enable other parties to assess the applicability of the privilege or protection.

(2) Duty of Recipient. A party who receives a document, electronically stored information, or other property that the party knows or reasonably should know was inadvertently sent shall promptly notify the sender.

(3) Information Produced. Within a reasonable time after information is produced in discovery that is subject to a claim of privilege or of protection, the party who produced the information shall notify each party who received the information of the claim and the basis for it. A party who wishes to determine the validity of a claim of privilege or protection that is not controlled by a court order or a disclosure agreement entered into pursuant to subsection (e)(5) of this Rule shall promptly file a motion under seal requesting that the court determine the validity of the claim. A party in possession of information that is the subject of the motion shall appropriately preserve the information pending a ruling. A receiving party may not use or disclose the information until the claim is resolved and shall take reasonable steps to retrieve any information the receiving party disclosed before being notified.

Cross reference: Rule 19-304.4 (b) of the Maryland Attorneys' Rules of Professional Conduct.

Committee note: Subsection (e)(3) allows a producing party to assert a claim of privilege or protection after production because it is increasingly costly and time-consuming to review all electronically stored information in advance. Unlike the corresponding federal rule, a party must raise a claim of privilege or protection within a “reasonable time.” See Elkton Care Center Associates v. Quality Care Management, Inc., 145 Md. App. 532 (2002).

(4) Effect of Inadvertent Disclosure. A disclosure of a communication or information covered by a privilege or protection does not operate as a waiver if the holder of the privilege or work product protection (A) made the disclosure inadvertently, (B) took reasonable precautions to prevent disclosure, and (C) took reasonably prompt measures to rectify the error once the holder knew or should have known of the disclosure.

Committee note: Courts in other jurisdictions are in conflict over whether an inadvertent disclosure of privileged or protected information constitutes a waiver. A few courts find that a disclosure must be intentional to be a waiver. Most courts find a waiver only if the disclosing party acted carelessly in disclosing the communication or information and failed to request its return in a timely manner. A few other courts hold that any mistaken disclosure of protected information constitutes waiver without regard to the protections taken to avoid such a disclosure. See generally Hopson v. City of Baltimore, 232 F.R.D. 228 (D. Md. 2005) for a discussion of this case law.

This subsection opts for the middle ground: inadvertent disclosure of privileged or protected information in connection with a state or federal proceeding constitutes a waiver only if the party did not take reasonable precautions to prevent disclosure and did not make reasonable and prompt efforts to rectify the error. This position is in accord with Maryland common law, see, e.g., Elkton Care Center Associates v. Quality Care Management, Inc., 145 Md. App. 532 (2002), and the majority view on whether inadvertent disclosure is a waiver. See, e.g., Zapata v. IBP, Inc., 175 F.R.D. 574, 576-77 (D. Kan. 1997) (work product); Hydraflow, Inc. v. Enidine, Inc., 145 F.R.D. 626, 637 (W.D.N.Y. 1993) (attorney-client privilege); Edwards v. Whitaker, 868 F.Supp. 226, 229 (M.D. Tenn. 1994) (attorney-client privilege).

(5) Controlling Effect of Court Orders and Agreements. Unless incorporated into a court order, an agreement as to the effect of disclosure of a communication or information covered by a privilege or protection is binding on the parties to the agreement but not on other persons. If the agreement is incorporated into a court order, the order governs all persons or entities, whether or not they are or were parties.

Committee note: Parties may agree to certain protocols to minimize the risk of waiver of a claim of privilege or protection. One example is a “clawback” agreement, meaning an agreement that production will occur without a waiver of privilege or protection as long as the producing party promptly identifies the privileged or protected documents that have been produced. See The Sedona Conference, The Sedona Principles: Best Practices Recommendations and Principles for Addressing Electronic Document Production, (2d ed. 2007), Comment 10.a. Another example is a “quick peek” agreement, meaning that the responding party provides certain requested materials for initial examination without waiving any privilege or protection. The requesting party then designates the documents it wishes to have actually produced, and the producing party may assert any privilege or protection. Id., Comment 10.d.

Subsection (e)(5) codifies the well-established proposition that parties can enter into an agreement to limit the effect of waiver by disclosure between or among them. See, e.g., Dowd v. Calabrese, 101 F.R.D. 427, 439 (D.D.C. 1984) (no waiver where the parties stipulated in advance that certain testimony at a deposition “would not be deemed to constitute a waiver of the attorney-client or work product privileges”); Zubulake v. UBS Warburg LLC, 216 F.R.D. 280, 290 (S.D.N.Y. 2003) (noting that parties may enter into “so-called ‘claw-back’ agreements that allow the parties to forego privilege review altogether in favor of an agreement to return inadvertently produced privileged documents”). Of course, such an agreement can bind only the parties to the agreement. The subsection makes clear that if parties want protection from a finding of waiver by disclosure in separate litigation, the agreement must be made part of a court order. Confidentiality orders are important in limiting the costs of privilege review and retention, especially in cases involving electronic discovery. The utility of a confidentiality order is substantially diminished if it provides no protection outside the particular litigation in which the order is entered. Parties are unlikely to be able to reduce the costs of preproduction review for privilege or protection if the consequence of disclosure is that the information can be used by nonparties to the litigation.

Subsection (e)(5) provides that an agreement of the parties governing confidentiality of disclosures is enforceable against nonparties only if it is incorporated in a court order, but there can be no assurance that this enforceability will be recognized by courts other than those of this State. There is some dispute as to whether a confidentiality order entered in one case can bind nonparties from asserting waiver by disclosure in separate litigation. See generally Hopson v. City of Baltimore, 232 F.R.D. 228 (D.Md. 2005), for a discussion of this case law.

(f) Trial Preparation--Party's or Witness' Own Statement. A party may obtain a statement concerning the action or its subject matter previously made by that party without the showing required under section (d) of this Rule. A person who is not a party may obtain, or may authorize in writing a party to obtain, a statement concerning the action or its subject matter previously made by that person without the showing required under section (d) of this Rule. For purposes of this section, a statement previously made is (1) a written statement signed or otherwise adopted or approved by the person making it, or (2) a stenographic, mechanical, electrical, or other recording, or a transcription thereof, that is a substantially verbatim recital of an oral statement by the person making it and contemporaneously recorded.

(g) Trial Preparation--Experts.

(1) Expected to be Called at Trial.

(A) Generally. A party by interrogatories may require any other party to identify each person, other than a party, whom the other party expects to call as an expert witness at trial; to state the subject matter on which the expert is expected to testify; to state the substance of the findings and the opinions to which the expert is expected to testify and a summary of the grounds for each opinion; and to produce any written report made by the expert concerning those findings and opinions. A party also may take the deposition of the expert.

Committee note: This subsection requires a party to disclose the name and address of any witness who may give an expert opinion at trial, whether or not that person was retained in anticipation of litigation or for trial. Cf. Dorsey v. Nold, 362 Md. 241 (2001). See Rule 104.10 of the Rules of the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland. The subsection does not require, however, that a party name himself or herself as an expert. See Turgut v. Levin, 79 Md. App. 279 (1989).

(B) Additional Disclosure with Respect to Experts Retained in Anticipation of Litigation or for Trial. In addition to the discovery permitted under subsection (g)(1)(A) of this Rule, a party by interrogatories may require the other party to summarize the qualifications of a person expected to be called as an expert witness at trial and whose findings and opinions were acquired or obtained in anticipation of litigation or for trial, to produce any available list of publications written by that expert, and to state the terms of the expert's compensation.

(2) Not Expected to Be Called at Trial. When an expert has been retained by a party in anticipation of litigation or preparation for trial but is not expected to be called as a witness at trial, discovery of the identity, findings, and opinions of the expert may be obtained only if a showing of the kind required by section (d) of this Rule is made.

(3) Fees and Expenses of Deposition. Unless the court orders otherwise on the ground of manifest injustice, the party seeking discovery: (A) shall pay each expert a reasonable fee, at a rate not exceeding the rate charged by the expert for time spent preparing for a deposition, for the time spent in attending a deposition and for the time and expenses reasonably incurred in travel to and from the deposition; and (B) when obtaining discovery under subsection (g)(2) of this Rule, shall pay each expert a reasonable fee for preparing for the deposition.

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