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In 2015, the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure were amended to change, among other things, the procedure for responding to document requests under Rule 34(b). Effective as of Dec. 1, 2015, parties may no longer lodge general objections to document requests propounded by their adversaries but must, instead, “state with specificity the grounds for objecting to the request, including the reasons.” In addition, Rule 34(b) now requires practitioners to state in their objections whether any responsive materials are being withheld, and, by virtue of a simultaneous amendment to Rule 26, it is no longer permissible to object on the grounds that a request is not reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence.

Despite the passage of more than two years since these amendments went into effect, many practitioners are still unaware of them. In Fischer v. Forrest, No. 14 Civ. 1304 (PAE) (AJP); 14 Civ. 1307 (PAE) (AJP), 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 28102, at *2 (S.D.N.Y. Feb. 28, 2017), Magistrate Judge Andrew Peck issued “a discovery wake-up call to the Bar in this District” about the need for practitioners to change their “form file” to comport with the 2015 amendments to Rules 34 and 26. In particular, Magistrate Judge Peck noted that it was no longer permissible for practitioners to incorporate general objections to discovery responses into their responses to specific requests. Indeed, “General objections should rarely be used after December 1, 2015 unless each such objection applies to each document request (e.g., objecting to produce privileged material).” Id. at *7. Magistrate Judge Peck also noted the need to update the language used in discovery responses to reflect the 2015 amendment’s shift toward a new discovery threshold. Id. (“General Objection I also objects that the discovery is not ‘likely to lead to the discovery of relevant, admissible evidence.’ The 2015 amendments deleted that language from Rule 26(b)(1), and lawyers need to remove it from their jargon”) (citation omitted). Magistrate Judge Peck further cautioned against objecting to a request as “overly broad and unduly burdensome,” an objection which he characterized as “meaningless boilerplate.” Id. at *8.

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