The Iowa Supreme Court has approved amendments to the Rules of Civil Procedure in two important areas. The court has established rules for an expedited trial track for cases involving less than $75,000.00. The court also has made significant changes in the general discovery rules for all civil cases. The effective date of these amendments is January 1, 2015. All attorneys with a pending civil case, or who potentially may handle, consult, or advise regarding a civil case, must read these rules and become familiar with them.
A few of the changes in the rules that apply to all civil cases include a requirement that both sides participate in a mandatory conference with each other soon after the lawsuit is filed. Other changes, for example, include that promptly after that conference the parties are to provide initial disclosures and a plan for litigation. The initial disclosures include identification of persons with information about the case and production of relevant documents. Expert witness rules now require a written report of the expert to accompany the expert disclosure. The rules apply to all civil cases already pending as well as to new cases filed after January 1, 2015. Those cases already pending will have certain deadlines excepted from the new rules, as indicated in the new rules.
The expedited civil action rule allows the plaintiff to use the expedited civil action process if the plaintiff so chooses. If this new procedure is chosen, the case must be tried in one year or less. Obviously, that means discovery must move quickly. The award is limited to $75,000. The rule limits written discovery and other pretrial procedures, including allowing for a health care provider’s written statement in lieu of testimony. This rule provides for a trial to be heard by a jury of six persons, with attorneys on each side being limited to six hours for jury selection, openings, evidence by direct and cross-examination, and closing. Jury instructions must be submitted jointly as one set, with alternatives if there is disagreement. These are a few of the new provisions in the expedited civil action rule.
Greg Lederer, LedererWestonCraig PLC
CLE CREDIT (approved)
1 state hour
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