How Does Discovery Work in Business Litigation?

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How Does Discovery Work in Business Litigation?

Discovery can occur before, during, and after a lawsuit.

Parties can obtain deposition testimony or other discovery before a lawsuit is even filed if it is necessary to preserve evidence, under rule 27 of the Arizona Rules of Civil Procedure. For example, a key witness may be preparing to leave the country before the lawsuit can be filed, or for whatever reason one can show that documents are about to disappear unless demanded and preserved immediately. Under rule 27, the party must file the appropriate petition and follow certain procedural steps.

Of course, the typical discovery process occurs after a lawsuit is filed and is designed to remove barriers to information. It ensures that both sides can access and present the information necessary to try their cases. Lawsuits rarely involve surprise evidence that one of the parties had no idea existed, such as those in courtroom dramas portrayed on television. Discovery is an extensive fact-finding process that can take months or even years to complete in particularly complex cases.

Discovery can take different forms, depending on the needs of the parties and the subject of the dispute. For example, interrogatories are written questions to which parties must respond in writing. Requests for production of document require parties to the dispute, as well as third parties, to provide documentary evidence as requested by a party. Depositions are formal interviews of parties and witnesses that are conducted under oath and recorded by a court reporter. Testimony given by individuals during depositions is admissible at the trial if needed. Additionally, all discovery rules in both Arizona state and federal court have been updated to include e-discovery, or the exchange of electronic information.

Finally, under 69(c) of the Arizona Rules of Civil Procedure, the prevailing party, now a judgment creditor, can obtain discovery from any person, including the judgment debtor, to aid in the enforcement of the judgment. Judgment creditors can examine the judgment debtor or other witnesses under oath, obtain documents, or serve interrogatories. The judgment creditor thereby seeks evidence of the debtor’s assets so that they can collect on their judgment.

Williams Mestaz, L.L.P., are advocates for parties involved in complex business litigation. We handle the legal matters of individuals, businesses, and other entities facing a wide variety of business and aviation related disputes and regulatory hurdles. We will protect your rights and build a strong case on your behalf, whatever type of issues arises in your case. Call our office at (602) 256-9400 to set up an appointment to speak with us today.

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