On Dec. 1, new amendments to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure addressing discovery of electronically stored information will take effect unless Congress enacts legislation to reject, modify or defer the amendments. The amendments to Rules 16, 26, 33, 34, 37 and 45, which were approved by the U.S. Supreme Court on April 12, 2006, attempt to bring the discovery rules up-to-date in an information age in which the majority of new communication and information is now created, disseminated and stored in electronic media.

These new rules will be of particular significance in product liability litigation, in which potentially relevant electronic data relating to the design, development, manufacturing, marketing, distribution and sale of a single product may be contained in multiple information systems, in different proprietary programs, in different formats, and subject to different protocols, retention policies, and maintenance schedules throughout various divisions, branches or facilities of a single company.

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