Tennessee Rules Regarding Expert Witness Depositions and Interrogatories
Under Rule 26.02(4)(A)(ii) of the Tennessee Rules of Civil Procedure, experts that a party expects to call a trial may be subject to deposition. The Tennessee Rules to do not specify a time limit for depositions, but Rule 30.02(3) provides that the court may increase or decrease the time allowed for deposition upon a showing of cause. Also, experts generally may not be subject to interrogatories in Tennessee, as they are only served on the parties. As discussed in the following section, though, these interrogatories can require disclosures about experts and, accordingly, expert participation in responding to certain interrogatories may be beneficial.
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Tennessee Expert Witness Reports and Disclosures Rules
The extent of disclosures required for experts depends on whether the expert is expected to be called at trial or was retained purely for consulting purposes. Information regarding the latter group of experts, specifically their identities and the facts and opinions they possess, is not discoverable unless the party seeking discovery can show that it cannot obtain facts or opinions on the same subject by other means.
For an expert expected to be called at trial, on the other hand, through interrogatories a party can require its opponent to disclose the identity of such expert, the subject matter on which he or she is expected to testify, the substance of the facts and opinions to which the expert is expected to testify, and a summary of the basis for these opinions. Further, if the interrogatory so requests, a party must disclose the expert’s qualifications, including a list of all publications penned in the previous ten years, a list of all other cases in which the expert testified during the previous four years, and a statement of the compensation that the expert will be paid in the case.
Rules Regarding Lawyer-Expert Communications, Draft Expert Witness Reports, Expert Witness Notes, Etc. in Tennessee
In Tennessee, as in most jurisdictions, trial judges are given broad discretion regarding the scope of discovery. See, e.g., Shauna Veach, Are Reports Prepared By Experts for Attorneys in Preparation for Litigation Covered by the Work-Product Doctrine Under the Tennessee Rules of Civil Procedure?, 5 Tenn. J. Prac. & Proc. 7, 7 (2003). Accordingly, cases in which a trial judge’s decision to either permit or deny discovery of experts beyond what is specifically permitted in the Tennessee Rules of Civil Procedure (see section above) are few and far between. However, Tennessee cases that have taken up this issue have suggested that “reports prepared by experts for an attorney in preparation for trial are included as part of that attorney’s work product.” Arnold v. City of Chattanooga, 19 S.W.3d 779, 784 (Tenn. Ct. App. 1999); see also Veach, supra, at 7-9. Note that even if preliminary reports of experts and communications between attorneys and their experts are considered work product, Rule 26.02(3) provides that a court may still order disclosure if the party seeking discovery has substantial need of the materials in the preparation of the case and is unable without undue hardship to obtain the substantial equivalent of the materials by other means.