In most business litigation lawsuits, the most important part of the case is the discovery period. Basically, discovery is the process by which each side learns, or “discovers” information about the other side’s case. During the discovery period, the Plaintiff (the party bringing the suit) will try to obtain documents and testimony tending to prove that the plaintiff should win the case. In contrast, the Defendant (the party defending the lawsuit) will seek documents and testimony showing that the defendant has a valid defense to the suit. Discovery often determines the outcome of the case, because it usually reveals the strengths and weaknesses of both the Plaintiff’s claim and the Defendant’s defense.
In business litigation cases, the discovery process normally begins after the Plaintiff has filed suit and the Defendant has responded with an answer. The first step is written discovery, where each side makes formal written requests to the other side for information. There are four basic types of written discovery:
Under Texas law, each side has thirty (30) days to respond to written discovery requests, although attorneys can and often do agree to allow each other more time to respond.
The other type of discovery in a business litigation case is the deposition. A deposition is a formal questioning of a witness under oath, and in front of a court reporter who prepares a transcript of what the witness says. In most cases, attorneys for each side will depose the other party, expert witnesses employed by the other party, and any other witness having knowledge of important facts related to the case.
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