What is an RFP and what is it used for

Explaining the discovery process and the use of RFPs under Florida litigation

Once a lawsuit is filed it is usually time for the attorney to commence the formal discovery period. This discovery period is marked as the stage in which the attorney gathers information and documents from the adverse parties (and nonparties - when permitted). There are many different ways that these documents can be gathered, these different methods are called discovery devices. Discovery devices are useful customs that gather the information needed to put a case together. This collected evidence from the nonparty, along with the evidence gathered from the client and any witnesses, can be used to prove or defend a partys case. This rule does go both ways, meaning the plaintiff’s party is also permitted to obtain nonparty evidence to be used during trial. As long as the evidence is related to the case, and is not formally listed as privileged information, it is attainable and usable for either party to build their case.
The most typical device used to begin the discovery period of a trial is through an RFP, Request for Production. Under Fla.R.Civ.P. 1.350, an RFP should be made to get copies of all the documentary evidence that is relevant to the case. The procedure for a RFP is listed under Florida Rules of Civil Procedure: The request shall specify a reasonable time, place, and manner of making the inspection or performing the related acts. The party to whom the request is directed shall serve a written response within 30 days after service of the request, with the exception being that a defendant may serve a response within 45 days after service of the process and initial pleading on that defendant. The court may allow a shorter or longer time and it is customary for attorneys to grant each other additional time to respond.
For each item or category the response shall state that inspection and related activities will be permitted as requested unless the request is objected to, in which event the reasons for the objection shall be stated. If an objection is made to part of an item or category, the part shall be specified. When producing documents, the producing party shall either produce them as they are kept in the usual course of business or shall identify them to correspond with the categories in the request. The party submitting the request may move for an order in the case of an objection, failure to respond to any part of the request, or failure to permit the inspection as requested. Additionally, certain types of documents requested may be confidential in nature and the party being asked to produce the documentation may require a confidentiality agreement be in place prior to divulging the confidential information; other forms of protection is an in camera review of the records, where the Judge reviews the information and determines whether it should be viewed by the opposing party.
Request for Productions may take the form of documents, videos, recordings, electronic data, cds, or any other form of media which has information.
The discovery process if very liberal and provides access to a vast amount of information; indeed, even if a request is not deemed relevant by the opposing party, under most situations, the information must still be provided. Whether the documentation comes into evidence as part of the trial, that is a different story as it follows a different construction of rules.

Attorney: Maurice Arcadier
Status: Answered
Date Filed: September 25, 2013