Fairer Standard Discovery, Clearer Extensions of Time, and More Equitable Transcript Costs: Three Welcome Changes to the Practice Book in 2012

by Alinor Sterling, Co-Chair, CTLA Rules Committee

Good things come in groups of three:  Harry, Ron and Hermione; chocolate, vanilla and strawberry; and three welcome amendments to the Practice Book in 2012.  As happens every year, this past June the judges of the Superior Court passed a number of changes to the Practice Book.  The 2011-2012 changes include revisions to facilitate electronic filing, new rules applicable to trust accounts, and additions to standardize discovery of electronically stored information.  

This article will focus on three additional changes that CTLA members will want to know.  These changes will become effective January 1, 2012

(1) Standard Discovery of Wage Records

Defendants’ standard discovery in personal injury actions (Practice Book Form 205) presently requires plaintiffs to produce their tax returns only if a wage claim is being made.  This makes sense.  Form 205 also presently requires plaintiffs to produce wage and employment records whether or not a wage claim is being made, and this does not make sense.  Not only are the two provisions inconsistent, the latter is an unnecessary invasion into the privacy of the plaintiff who is not making a wage claim.  As a result, CTLA’s Rules Committee proposed a correction to Form 205 to address this problem.  This proposed revision was accepted and approved by the judges, and the standard discovery will now require the production of wage and employment records only if the plaintiff is making a wage claim.  The change appears in Form 205, Defendant’s Standard Request for Production No. 3.

(2) Motions for Extension of Time

Also starting January 1, 2012, Motions for Extension of Time to plead, respond to written discovery, object to written discovery, or respond to Requests for Admissions must state the date through which the extension is sought.  This new provision applies both to pleading extensions and discovery extensions but you will not find it either in Chapter 10 (Pleadings) or Chapter 13 (Discovery).  It appears in Practice Book Section 11-1, concerning the general form of motions and requests.  CTLA’s Rules Committee proposed and supported this change because of the confusion caused when a (most frequently defense) motion requesting an unspecified extension is granted:  Does the extension run from the date the motion for extension was filed? The date of the granting?  It is helpful to the parties and the court if a date is specified, and this is what the Practice Book will require when the change becomes effective.

(3) Each Party Pays for its own Deposition Transcript.

It long has been the rule in Connecticut state practice that the party noticing a deposition pays for transcript copies, as well as copies of video and audio tapes, for adverse parties.  Beginning in the New Year, this procedure will change.  Practice Book Section 13-30 has been revised to bring our practice in line with the more generally accepted procedure that each party pays for its own copies of deposition transcripts and audio and video tapes.  However much we might like to, CTLA’s Rules Committee cannot take credit for this proposal.  This change originated inthe Civil Commission.  Nonetheless, our Committee considers this to be fair, and a substantial improvement from existing practice rules.

CTLA’s Rules Committee invites and welcomes suggestions from any members concerning additional changes to the Practice Book that  would improve Connecticut practice.  Please send any suggestions to Alinor Sterling, asterling@koskoff.com, or her Co-Chair, Steve Ecker, ecker@cemlaw.com

Alinor Sterling practices at Koskoff  Koskoff & Bieder, P.C. in Bridgeport.