Soon, the cost of responding to document requests in California state court
will significantly rise. Previously — and as with many other jurisdictions
and in federal court — documents could be produced through one of two
methods: (1) as they are kept in the usual course of business, or (2)
organized and labeled to correspond with the categories in the demand. Not
Effective Jan. 1, 2020, Code of Civil Procedure § 2031.280 requires that
documents be produced by identifying “the specific request number to which
the documents respond.” Technically, this was always an option. Few used
it, however, due to the burden it imposes. In large-scale document
productions, identifying each request to which each document is responsive
is impractical and burdensome. There may be dozens of document requests (or
even hundreds of requests) and tens of thousands of documents that need to
be reviewed. Matching each document to every responsive request (many of
which are duplicative or overlapping) would cause document reviews to move
at a snail’s pace, significantly increasing review costs.
Unfortunately, litigants in California state court no longer have a choice.
Counsel will need to be mindful of the increased production burden and
expense when agreeing on the scope of document review, and may want to push
harder to reduce the number of documents reviewed. Counsel should also
ensure that they are tracking responsiveness to particular requests on the
front end to avoid inefficiencies and noncompliance with the amended rules
at the production stage.