Georgia Rules Regarding Expert Witness Depositions and Interrogatories
Under § 9-11-26(b)(4)(A)(ii) of the Georgia Code, experts who are expected to testify at trial may be deposed in the same manner as any other witness. Oral depositions are governed by § 9-11-30, which does not provide a general time limit for depositions, but does state that the court has the power to increase or decrease the time available for deposition for cause. Experts in Georgia generally may not be subject to interrogatories as they can only be directed to the opposing party.
Georgia Expert Witness Reports and Disclosures Rules
The Georgia Code, like most states, splits experts into two categories—those expected to provide testimony at trial and those retained only for consulting purposes in anticipation of or preparation for litigation. The latter category of experts is fully protected from discovery except upon a showing of exceptional circumstances under which it is impracticable for the party seeking discovery to obtain facts or opinions on the same subject by other means. Courts generally only find exceptional circumstances to exist when information or materials available for inspection or analysis by one party’s expert is no longer available for inspection by the other party’s expert. See Bridgestone/Firestone North American Tire, LLC v. Campbell, 574 S.E.2d 923, 928 (Ga. Ct. App. 2002). Discovery of experts expected to be called at trial, on the other hand, is available to the same extent as for other, non-expert witnesses. Additionally, upon interrogatory from the opposing party, a party must disclose the identity of each expert it expects to call at trial, provide the subject matter on which the expert will testify, and provide the facts and opinions to which each expert will testify and the bases for such opinions. Further, a party can compel production of the reports of the experts its opponent experts to call at trial pursuant to § 9-11-34.
Rules Regarding Lawyer-Expert Communications, Draft Expert Witness Reports, Expert Witness Notes, Etc. in Georgia
Attorney-expert communications unrelated to an expert’s report are not subject to discovery “to the extent that the correspondence contains the opinion work product of the attorney.” See 1-9 LN Practice Guide GA Pretrial Civil Procedure § 9.09 (2014). Draft reports and attorney-expert communications that occur while preparing the report “are considered trial preparation materials discoverable only by showing the party seeking discovery has a substantial need of the materials and is unable to obtain the equivalent of the materials without undue hardship.” See id.; see also McKinnon v. Smock, 434 S.E.2d 92, 93 (Ga. Ct. App. 1993).