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November 2013

Gordon & Rees Partner Skip McCowan Testifies on Proposed Changes to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure

On Nov. 7, Gordon & Rees San Francisco partner Jack “Skip” McCowan testified before the Committee on Rules of Practice and Procedure of the Judicial Conference of the United States in Washington, D.C. on the proposed rule changes. At the one-day public hearing, held at the Thurgood Marshall Federal Judiciary Building, McCowan was the first to testify on the proposed changes to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, including discovery-related rules.

“With no requirement that discovery be focused on its relevance to the specifics of the case at hand, I’ve experienced situations where there was discovery of information on products other than the product at issue,” McCowan told the committee, which is made up of federal judges, law professors and practitioners. McCowan argued that the tendency of courts to require overly-broad production of information on products unrelated to the product in the case results in costs to defendants in the hundreds of millions of dollars. The proposed amendments affect FRCP 1, 4, 6, 16, 26, 30, 31, 33, 34, 36, 37, 55, 84, and the Appendix of Forms.

Six of the witnesses who testified, including McCowan, are members of DRI – The Voice of the Defense Bar, and two are former DRI presidents. McCowan is vice chair of DRI’s Center for Law and Public Policy and he is serving a three-year term as a DRI national director. He is a former chair of DRI's Drug and Medical Device Committee and has been a member of the Drug & Medical Device Steering Committee for many years.

McCowan’s practice involves drug, medical device and other product liability litigation, environmental litigation, and commercial litigation, including unfair business practices and trade secrets matters. He has represented companies in federal and state court trials throughout California and in other states. Among his many honors, in 2012, McCowan was recognized by Who's Who Legal International as a "Most Highly Regarded Individual" in product liability defense, a distinction awarded to only 10 attorneys worldwide for outstanding achievement in their respective practice areas.

The public comment period on the proposed FRCP amendments closes on Feb. 15, 2014.