Objections and responses to discovery requests are generally due thirty (30) days after the requests were served. (Interrogatories–Fed. R. Civ. P. 33(b)(2); Requests for Documents and Electronically Stored Information–Fed. R. Civ. P. 34(b)(2)(A); Requests for Admission–Fed. R. Civ. P. 36(a)(3).) This practice guide contains annotations to these rules and many more.
When are objections and responses to discovery due in federal court?
Quick Reference on FRCP 33 and Interrogatories
What are interrogatories?
- Written specific targeted questions submitted and answered under oath from one party to another designed to fill in gaps from disclosures for purposes of more detailed discovery.
How can interrogatories benefit the discovering party?
- They may provide insight into particular legal theories to be used, the specific amount of damages, and the details related to why a party is putting forth certain claims and defenses.
What are the disadvantages to using interrogatories?
- They are generally limited to 25, the opposing party can avoid them if they are not drafted clearly, and they can often be objected to
Who can be served with interrogatories?
- Only parties to the suit; non-parties require a different method of discovery
When and how may interrogatories be served?
- Via the same service as under Rule 5; Can be done in any order during discovery.
What is the presumptive limit on the number of interrogatories?
- 25, including the sub-parts.
- Always have a main topic to avoid the sub-parts each being considered discrete interrogatories.
33(a)(2) – What is the scope of interrogatories?
- Any matter that is subject to discovery under 26(b)(1):
- Non privileged information,
- Relevant to any party’s claim OR defense
- Reasonably calculated to lead to discovery of admissible evidence (if not already admissible)
- Any matter that is subject to discovery under 26(b)(1):
How might a party answer the interrogatories?
- Wholly answer, object to them, or answer in part and object in part
- Answers are signed by the party involved, or in cases of a corporation, an appropriate agent
How might a party use business records to answer interrogatories?
- By providing the requesting party with access to and/or knowledge of their location, and allowing them to compile the information
How might a party object to the interrogatories?
- Specifically stating the grounds for the individual objections, then having the attorney who prepared the objection sign it
- Main objections:
- Not relevant to any claim or defense
- Not reasonably calculated to lead to discovery of admissible evidence (fishing expedition)
- Overly broad (in temporal scope, geographic scope, or corporate structure/organizational scope)
- Unduly burdensome/expensive
What is the time limit for a party to answer interrogatories?
- 30 days from service, unless a longer time has been granted by the court.
Quick Reference on FRCP 34 and Requests to Produce Documents
What are requests for production of documents (RFPs)?
- Requests to view, copy, and inspect documents that are discoverable material;
- documents, tangible things, and access to property
- If it doesn’t exist as a document already, and RFP cannot force a party to create a document (reformulated data would be obtained in an interrogatory)
How can RFPs benefit the discovering party?
- The documents are in the exact form as original, not filtered through lawyers. They are excellent to use in depositions and at trial.
- They provide additional information, specific evidentiary support for claims and defenses, and the names and details of events which can be helpful, in forming a defense or a claim
What are the disadvantages to using RFPs?
- They are limited in scope to those things which are documented. They can overwhelm the discovering party with a large amount of information that is difficult to search through, and may yield no significant benefit
Who can be served with RFPs?
- 34(a) and 34(c) Any party to the suit, and pursuant to Rule 45, non-parties as well if the court compels through subpoena.
When and how may RFPs be served?
- Discovery may be performed in any order during the discovery window scheduled by the court, and they are to be served pursuant to Rule 5
Is there a presumptive limit on the number of RFPs?
What is the scope of RFPs?
- Anything that fulfills Rule 26(b) and is non-privileged information, relevant to any party’s claim or defense, reasonably calculated to lead to admissible evidence
- Ask for all non-identical copies, be precise in the way you want documents presented and the definition of document
How does the responding party produce the documents?
- 34(b)(2)(E)(i) In the same way they are kept for business purposes or organized according to how they are requested
Note the special provisions for electronically stored information (ESI).
- 34(b)(2)(D) and 34(b)(2)(E)(ii) and (iii) ESI must be produced in a typical form or reasonably usable form, and need not be produced in more than one way
How might a party object to RFPs?
- 34(b)(2) In whole or in part; the objecting party must specify the part objected to and permit the rest
- irrelevant to claim/defense
- not reasonably calculated to lead to admissible evidence
- overly broad in time, scope, corporate structure
- unduly burdensome
- too vague to be answered
What is the time limit for a party to respond to RFPs?
- 30 days to respond to the request, and then a reasonable time afterwards to complete the location and culmination of the requested documents
Quick Reference on Requests for Admission (RFAs)
RFAs can only be sent to a party. They are designed so parties can easily obtain small bits of information to clear up or clarify. These should not be made compound because if denied, you don’t know which part is causing the RFA to be denied. You only get one word answers, “admitted” or “denied,” or you may make the statement that you lack information to admit nor deny. If the responding party does not provide responses within the deadline, then all of the RFAs are deemed admitted.