"Motions to Compel Further Responses"

A close-up of a Baseball or Softball Home Plate Umpire

Recently I received an e-mail from an attorney who followed my advice regarding General Objections.  It went like this:

“I read your article ‘Why you Need to Bring a Motion to Strike General Objections,’ and filed a ‘Motion to Strike Defendants’ Preliminary Statement and Unmeritorious Objections.’  The Preliminary Statement contained many of the issues you pointed out in your article, and each of defendants’ responses to interrogatories and document requests contained the same 28 lines of objections.  The court then separated the motions to compel from the motions to strike and refused to rule on the motion to strike stating “There is no such motion.” Is the court correct?”

The court is correct that a Motion to Strike pursuant to C.C.P. §435 and C.C.P. §437 is about the pleadings even though the request  “Move to Strike” is often used in discovery (i.e, portions of a declaration, objections in a deposition) even though it is not codified.  However, I have never seen a court refuse to deal with a discovery issue based on semantics of the notice.  In fact, according to Weil and Brown,  Civil Procedure Before Trial (TRG 2015) 9:2.3 citing Sole Energy Co. v. Petrominerals Corp. (2005) 128 CA4th, 187, 192-193 the label of the motion is not determinative.

Propounding parties are in a Catch-22 situation.  There is no provision allowing the General Objections or a Preliminary Statement in a discovery response so there is no remedy for it.  The following is my rationale for recommending the filing of such a motion with your motion to compel further responses.

  • The Code does not allow for general objections or preliminary statements.  A party must respond to the individual interrogatory or request and that includes any objection.  See my blog article “What is a General Objection?
  • Each written discovery device allows a party to bring a motion to compel further responses if an objection is “too general.” See C.C.P. §2030.300 and C.C.P. §2031.310.
  • C.C.P. §2023.010(e) says it is a misuse of the discovery process if a party makes an unmeritorious objection to discovery.
  • C.C.P. §2023.010(f) says it is a misuse of the discovery process for making an evasive response to discovery.
  • C.C.P. §2023.030 gives the court power to issue monetary, issue and evidence sanctions on a party for misuse of the discovery process.

Procedurally speaking the proper motion to bring is a Motion to Compel Further Responses pursuant to C.C.P. §2030.300 and C.C.P. §2031.310 with a Request for Sanctions for violation of C.C.P. §2023.010(e) and  C.C.P. §2023.010(f).In that motion, a party should:

  • Point out to the court that the General Objections and Preliminary Statements are not proper and ask the court to overrule the objections or strike them from the response as improper.
  • Request the court require a further response with a ruling that responding party is forbidden to use General Objections or Preliminary Statements in any of their responses.
  • Finally, stress to the court that you are entitled to sanctions.

To answer the attorney’s question “Is the Court correct?”  In my opinion, No!  The court has the “inherent authority to manage and control its docket” and should have ruled on the merits regarding defendant’s improper General Objections and Preliminary Statement.

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When a Judge or Discovery Referee makes a comprise in a a discovery dispute–splitting the baby–I cringe. This goes against the philosophy of the Discovery Act and current case law. There are rules in discovery and attorneys are expected to play by those rules. When one side plays by the rules and asks the court to enforce those rules, it becomes disheartening to that party when the Judge or Discovery Referee splits the baby instead of making the tough call.

Recently, I heard a lawyer bemoan the fact that instead of granting the motion to compel further responses to requests for documents documents which he clearly had won, the judge ordered that the responding party to turn over all its declared experts files prior to the declared expert’s deposition instead.  Apparently the judge was persuaded by the opposition’s position that to provide a further response and gather all the responsive documents would take too much time away from their preparation of the impending trial. This order was wrong on so many levels I don’t know where to begin. Continue Reading A Judge Needs to Call Balls and Strikes on Discovery Motions

tank.jpgThere are three motions that you can bring–(1) Motion to Compel, (2) Motion to Compel Further Responses, and (3) Motion to Have Admissions Deemed Admitted.  All of them have their place in your discovery plan but two of them–Motion to Compel Further Responses and Motions to Have Matters Deemed Admitted must be in your arsenal.  Though they appear to be the same motions you would use for interrogatories, inspection demands, and depositions there are a few noteworthy twists and turns.

Continue Reading Request for Admissions-THE MOTIONS

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Attorneys easily spew out the objection “the information you are seeking is not relevant to the subject matter of the litigation” as easily as they say “Good morning.”  If you are the propounding party your reaction is probably to be to yell out “It is too relevant!” because it doesn’t even appear that the responding party actually thought it through before spewing out the objection.   But what exactly is relevancy?  It seems to be a nebulous term that invokes images of catching clouds with your hands or like Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart’s definition of pornography “I know it when I see it”?

Continue Reading It Is Too Relevant!

Lawer with Books.jpg Discovery motions are the banes of most attorneys’ existence and they are often relegated to the newbie in the office to prepare.  Young associates as well as other attorneys struggle on what needs to be in the papers and exactly how to convince the court that they should win.     

With the courts’ having budgetary problems and staff shortages, it is in your best interests to make it real clear to the court (1) what has happened; (2) what you want the court to do; and (3)  why you are entitled to the discovery and sanctions in a succinct fashion.  

Continue Reading What Should Your Discovery Motions Look Like?

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When I started this blog I asked fellow attorneys what issues they would like me to address.  I received this response from a lawyer in San Francisco: 

Key problem – judges that won’t crack down on parties that lodge bogus objections and don’t answer interrogs, and object to discovery demands that are straight forward. Amount of sanctions awarded is usually pitiful. 

Continue Reading SANCTIONS–DENIED!!!