Neither Limited nor Simplified: A Proposal for Reform of Illinois Supreme Court Rule 222(B)

Michael S. Smith*

A limited and simplified discovery system should broaden access to courts, resolve disputes quickly, and expedite relief to injured parties. It should not incentivize procedural gamesmanship or increase the system’s complexity. Regrettably, Illinois’s “limited and simplified” discovery system does both. The initiation procedure for the simplified system, Rule 222(b), creates procedural traps and perverse incentives for both plaintiffs and defendants, and conflicting appellate interpretations of the Rule intensify the problem. This Note examines the flaws underlying the current simplified discovery scheme and argues for reform. It examines simplified discovery schemes in other states to recommend a new system for initiating and exiting limited and simplified discovery in Illinois. It also identifies lessons that other states can take from Illinois to improve their own discovery procedures. The proposed reforms would improve cost savings by broadening the Illinois scheme’s applicability and increase transparency and fairness for all litigants.

*J.D. Candidate, May 2019, University of Michigan Law School. I am indebted to my Notes Editor Paul Hoversten and the Volume 117 Notes Office for all the work they did to improve this piece. I would also be remiss if I did not thank my friends and colleagues Megan Brown, Arianna Demas, Patrick Kennedy, Pat Maroun, Stephen Rees, and Jonathan Tietz for the many hours we have spent editing together. I am thankful for and fortunate to have the opportunity to work with such an extraordinary team.

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