15-6-26(b). Scope of discovery.

Unless otherwise limited by order of the court in accordance with these rules, the scope of discovery is as follows:

(1) In general. Parties may obtain discovery regarding any matter, not privileged, which is relevant to the subject matter involved in the pending action, whether it relates to the claim or defense of the party seeking discovery or to the claim or defense of any other party, including the existence, description, nature, custody, condition and location of any books, documents, or other tangible things and the identity and location of persons having knowledge of any discoverable matter. It is not ground for objection that the information sought will be inadmissible at the trial if the information sought appears reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence.

  The frequency or extent of use of the discovery methods set forth in § 15-6-26(a) shall be limited by the court if it determines that:

         (A)(i) the discovery sought is unreasonably cumulative or duplicative, or is obtainable from some other source that is more convenient, less burdensome, or less expensive;

             (ii) the party seeking discovery has had ample opportunity by discovery in the action to obtain the information sought; or

             (iii) discovery is unduly burdensome or expensive, taking into account the needs of the case, the amount in controversy limitations on the party's resources, and the importance of the issues at stake in the litigation.

  The court may act upon its own initiative after reasonable notice or pursuant to a motion under § 15-6-26(c).

(2) Insurance agreements. A party may obtain discovery of the existence and contents of any insurance agreement under which any person carrying on an insurance business may be liable to satisfy part or all of a judgment which may be entered in the action or to indemnify or reimburse for payments made to satisfy the judgment. Information concerning the insurance agreement is not by reason of disclosure admissible in evidence at trial. For purposes of this paragraph, an application for insurance shall not be treated as part of an insurance agreement.

(3) Trial preparation: materials. Subject to the provisions of subdivision (4) of this section, a party may obtain discovery of documents and tangible things otherwise discoverable under subdivision (1) of this section and prepared in anticipation of litigation or for trial by or for another party or by or for that other party's representative (including such other party's attorney, consultant, surety, indemnitor, insurer, or agent) only upon a showing that the party seeking discovery has substantial need of the materials in the preparation of the party's case and that the party is unable without undue hardship to obtain the substantial equivalent of the materials by other means. In ordering discovery of such materials when the required showing has been made, the court shall protect against disclosure of the mental impressions, conclusions, opinions, or legal theories of an attorney or other representative of a party concerning the litigation.

A party may obtain without the required showing a statement concerning the action or its subject matter previously made by that party. Upon request, a person not a party may obtain without the required showing a statement concerning the action or its subject matter previously made by that person. If the request is refused, the person may move for a court order. The provisions of subdivision 15-6-37(a)(4) apply to award of expenses incurred in relation to the motion. For purposes of this paragraph, a statement previously made is (A) a written statement signed or otherwise adopted or approved by the person making it, or (B) a stenographic, mechanical, electrical, or other recording, or a transcription thereof, which is a substantially verbatim recital of an oral statement by the person making it and contemporaneously recorded.

(4) Trial preparation: experts. Discovery of facts known and opinions held by experts, otherwise discoverable under the provisions of subdivision (1) of this rule and acquired or developed in anticipation of litigation or for trial may be obtained only as follows:

(A)(i) A party may through interrogatories require any other party to identify each person whom the other party expects to call as an expert witness at trial, to state the subject matter on which the expert is expected to testify, and to state the substance of the facts and opinions to which the expert is expected to testify and a summary of the grounds for each opinion. A party may also take the testimony of each such expert witness by deposition upon oral examination.

         (ii) Upon motion, the court may order further discovery by other means, subject to such restrictions as to scope and such provisions, pursuant to subdivision (4)(C) of this section, concerning fees and expenses as the court may deem appropriate.

      (B) Trial-preparation for draft reports or disclosures. Subdivision 15-6-26(b)(3) protects drafts of any report prepared by any witness who is retained or specially employed to provide expert testimony in the case or one whose duties as the party's employee regularly involves giving expert testimony, regardless of the form in which the draft is recorded.

      (C) Trial preparation protection for communication between a party's attorney and expert witnesses. Subdivision 15-6-26(b)(3) protects communications between the party's attorney and any witness who is retained or specially employed to provide expert testimony in the case or one whose duties as the party's employee regularly involve giving expert testimony, regardless of the form of the communications, except to the extent that the communications:

            (i) Relate to compensation for the expert's study or testimony;

            (ii) Identify facts or data that the party's attorney provided and that the expert considered in forming the opinion to be expressed; or

            (iii) Identify assumptions that the party's attorney provided and that the expert relied on in forming the opinions to be expressed.

      (D) A party may discover facts known or opinions held by an expert who has been retained or specially employed by another party in anticipation of litigation or preparation for trial and who is not expected to be called as a witness at trial, only as provided in § 15-6-35(b) or 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.

      (E) Unless manifest injustice would result, (i) the court shall require that the party seeking discovery pay the expert a reasonable fee for time spent in responding to discovery under subdivisions (4)(A)(ii) and (4)(B) of this section; and (ii) with respect to discovery obtained under subdivision (4)(A) (ii) of this section the court may require, and with respect to discovery obtained under subdivision (4)(B) of this section the court shall require, the party seeking discovery to pay the other party a fair portion of the fees and expenses reasonably incurred by the latter party in obtaining facts and opinions from the expert.

Source: SDC 1939 & Supp 1960, § 36.0505; SD RCP, Rule 26 (b), as adopted by Sup. Ct. Order March 29, 1966, effective July 1, 1966; Supreme Court Rule 76-3, § 2; SL 1993, ch 385 (Supreme Court Rule 93-2); SL 2006, ch 288 (Supreme Court Rule 06-14), eff. July 1, 2006; SL 2011, ch 244 (Supreme Court Rule 11-01), eff. July 1, 2011; SL 2021, ch 254 (Supreme Court Rule 21-02), eff. Feb. 23, 2021.