Discovery limited in pickup fire case.

In re GM (Published): In a product liability case involving an S-10 pickup fire, the plaintiffs sought GM’s S-10 documents at all points in time, as well as documents about other GM vehicles. The trial court overruled GM’s objections and compelled production. On mandamus, the trial court’s order was overruled.  The Tyler court ruled that the discovery sought was too broad.

There’s a long history concerning truck fires, GM, and discovery. The Texas Supreme Court issued a decision in the 1980’s in a GM C-Series pickup fire case. That decision held that there must be reasonable time limits on the documents sought. In the 1990’s NBC’s Dateline “juiced” an exposé  on the C-Series pickup by using fireworks to “dramatize” what they said would have happened without the fireworks. See the video of GM’s response here.  This history is worth keeping in mind when dealing with requests that ask for practically every document involving GM and fires.  A request like that covers a lot of documents.

The Texas Supreme Court has said that the requesting party has the burden to show that its requests are tailored to the case at hand. The Tyler court says likewise.

Practice tip: There were 85 document requests involved, and 43 interrogatories. They weren’t addressed one-by-one. Instead the parties presented “general arguments regarding the proper scope of discovery ….”  GM did not waive their objections by doing this. Instead, they may have earned some goodwill by sparing the court the details of each individual request. 

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