McGuireWoods partners Issac deVyver and Benjamin Sitter and associate Katelyn Fox wrote an article for Law360 discussing bifurcated discovery, a tool available to litigators to tackle class actions with questionable merits early in a case.
A motion to bifurcate advocates discovery pressing forward but limited to a threshold issue that may significantly limit the scope of a proposed class or confirm the plaintiff's claim has no merit. It allows the court to tackle a potentially dispositive issue without forcing the parties (and court) to engage in burdensome and costly discovery, while also allowing plaintiffs to demonstrate the merits of their claims.
Titled “Resolving Class Actions Early With Bifurcated Discovery,” the Aug. 31, 2021, article examined four key class actions with motions to bifurcate discovery. The authors detailed the effect in each case of employing such limited discovery.
The authors also noted that “[b]y raising [bifurcation] at the first case management conference, the parties can show the court that they have considered the most efficient way to litigate the case — and the court will have an opportunity to structure discovery from the outset in a manner that focuses on dispositive issues, and reduces burdens on the parties.”