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In Re Shell Oil Refinery

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Bloomberg Law

Citation. 132 F.R.D. 437, 1990 U.S. Dist.

Brief Fact Summary. During pretrial discovery, the Plaintiff moved for discovery of the Defendant’s experts.

Synopsis of Rule of Law. The facts known and opinions held by non-testifying experts,
who are retained in anticipation of litigation are subject to discovery only in exceptional
circumstances.


Facts. The Catalytic Cracking Unit (CCU) at the Shell Oil Refinery (Defendant)
exploded. The first of several suits were certified as a class action. The day after the
explosion, the parties entered an agreement giving Plaintiff’s legal committee (PLC) and
its experts access to the CCU to inspect, measure and photograph. Following the
agreement, Defendant preserved all materials tagged by PLC. During the course of the
litigation, Plaintiffs field several motions seeking expert discovery, specifically the
identities of Defendant’s experts and results of tests conducted by Defendant. The district
court held that the Plaintiff cannot have the information unless the expert is going to
testify.

Issue. Whether a party may acquire facts and opinions held by non-testifying experts
who are retained in anticipation of litigation?

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