In Cashman Equipment Corporation, Inc. V. Cardi Corporation, Case No. 2014-284-MP (June 3, 2016) the Supreme Court upheld a Superior Court order denying a plaintiff’s motion to compel production of documents reviewed by an expert retained to testify at trial. Plaintiff in this construction defect case claimed that Federal precedent clearly supports the proposition that materials considered by an expert are fully discoverable. In addition, it asserted that that the discovery is necessary to assure effective cross-examination at trial, serve judicial economy and effectuate cost savings. Defendant relied on the plain language of R.I.Civ.P. Rule 26(b)(4), which limits discovery relating to testifying experts to interrogatories and depositions.
The Court noted that it must give the language of the Rules its plain meaning when the language is clear and unambiguous. The rule identifies two methods of discovery and the Court refused to expand the rule indicating that any amendments to the rule must be accomplished by the Superior Court in accordance with R.I.Gen.L. §8-6-2(a). The Court also rejected any comparison between the State and Federal Rules, noting the language of the state rule is significantly different than the federal version. Finally, the Court reviewed the history behind the development of Rule 26. Prior to its 1993 Amendment, the Rule allowed additional expert discovery by court order. The 1993 amendment removed this language, indicating the drafter’s intent that discovery should be limited to the methods provided in the rule.