Recently I was contacted by an attorney who asked

“When does the 45 days to bring a motion to compel further responses to RPD begin? Is it when they serve their written response with an asserted privilege, or when they produce documents? The issue is over an asserted attorney client privilege. They produced redacted documents, no privilege log yet.”

There should be a simple answer to this question, but there is not.  When a party responds to a Request for Production of documents the response must comply with C.C.P. §§ 2031.210 – 240. If a party asserts a privilege for any document and either withholds the document or redacts the document, then the party must comply with C.C.P. §2031.240(c)(1) and (2) and provide a privilege/redaction log. In the above scenario, an argument can be made that the lack of a privilege/redaction log being served is tantamount to there being no response and all objections are waived. Thus, C.C.P. §2031.300 titled Effect of failure to serve timely response to demand; Motion for order; Monetary and other sanctions; Failure to provide electronically stored information is applicable which has no time limits to bring the motion to compel.  There is also no deadline for a motion to compel compliance with an agreement to produce documents. C.C.P. §2031.320(a); See Standon Co. v. Superior Court, 225 Cal. App. 3d 898, 903.

The other statute to consider is C.C.P. §2031.310 titled Motion for order compelling further response; Notice; Electronically stored information; Sanctions, which states:

(a) On receipt of a response to a demand for inspection, copying, testing, or sampling, the demanding party may move for an order compelling further response to the demand if the demanding party deems that any of the following apply:

(1) A statement of compliance with the demand is incomplete.

(2) A representation of inability to comply is inadequate, incomplete, or evasive.

(3) An objection in the response is without merit or too general

and requires the motion to compel further responses and documents to be filed and served 45 days after a response has been served. C.C.P. §2031.310.

The above three paragraphs appear to correspond with a party’s requirement to provide a response in compliance with C.C.P. §§ 2031.220 – 240.

C.C.P. 2031.220. Statement regarding compliance in whole or in part

C.C.P. §2031.230 Representation of inability to comply

C.C.P. 2031.240 Statement of compliance or inability to comply when part of demand objectionable; Legislative intent regarding privilege log

As can be seen by the statutes, it is not clear which statute would govern. However, there is guidance in the case law. In Best Products, Inc. v. Superior Court (2004) 119 CA4th 1181 the court found that even though the privilege log was not timely served, the court can only find waiver of the privileges if the response was not timely served. In a more recent case, the court in Catalina Island Yacht Club v. Superior Court  (2015) 242 CA4th 1116, 1126 found that a two-month delay in serving the privilege/redaction log did not waive any of the objections on the grounds of privilege stated in the timely response.

My advice is that upon receipt of a deficient response, you should plan on bringing a motion to compel further responses pursuant to C.C.P. §2031.240 and set your calendar for 45 days out to file and serve the motion.

Have you ever been in any of these situations?

Ten days after your client was served with the summons and complaint, the client was personally served with Form Interrogatories, 35 specially prepared interrogatories, 35 requests for admissions and 50 document requests.

Days after an unsuccessful mediation, you are served with 75 requests for admission, 60 special interrogatories, Form Interrogatory #17.1 and 100 requests for documents.  A Declaration of Necessity was served with the discovery.

Eleven days before the close of discovery, opposing counsel hand serves you with a Person Most Knowledgeable/Custodian of Records Deposition Notice with 27 separate categories for testimony and 67 requests for documents.

In each of these situations the discovery propounded was proper according to the Code of Civil Procedure. Continue Reading WHEN YOU GET BOMBARDED WITH DISCOVERY…

Co-Written with Suzanne Martin, Esq.,  Director of National Accounts for Centext Legal Services.

The COVID-19 pandemic has fundamentally changed the way in which depositions are conducted.  Most depositions throughout California are now conducted remotely, on virtual conferencing platforms, rather than in person, which was the modus operandi for so long. This change has brought some major benefits for counsel, witnesses, and the court reporters/videographers who are critical to the proceeding: there is much greater flexibility for all involved, as they are no longer required to travel to and from their offices or homes for each deposition, they do not need to carry their files or equipment to and from the deposition location, and they can now “attend” from anywhere, at any time, with a reliable internet connection.  Running late, stuck in traffic, and transit delays are all avoided.  Here in the Bay Area, that has been an enormous benefit simply in the efficient management of time, avoiding the ever-frustrating Bay Area freeways or less-than-reliable public transportation networks.  Virtual depositions, when counsel and witnesses are prepared and their connections are vetted, promote greater efficiency and result in less time overall to complete the examination.  Depositions tend to start on time, breaks tend to be shorter, distractions are minimized, and the preparation and management of the exhibits is streamlined.

Continue Reading What Lawyers are Getting Wrong in Virtual Depositions

 

Many lawyers use the terms “supplemental expert” and “rebuttal expert” interchangeably, but, according to the Discovery Act, they are very different. A supplemental expert  is one that was disclosed twenty days after experts have been disclosed and is pursuant to Code of Civil Procedure section 2034.280 and is allowed to provide expert testimony. However, a rebuttal expert’s testimony is limited to rebutting or contradicting an opponent’s  expert’s “foundational facts” that form the basis of their opinion. Continue Reading Rebuttal Expert Witnesses—Do you know how to use them?

If a party failed to serve their expert disclosure statement on time, they may bring a motion pursuant to C.C.P §2034.710 for an order to submit a tardy expert witness list.  This section titled Power of Court to Allow Motion to Submit Tardy Expert Witness states:

(a) On motion of any party who has failed to submit expert witness information on the date specified in a demand for that exchange, the court may grant leave to submit that information on a later date.

(b) A motion under subdivision (a) shall be made a sufficient time in advance of the time limit for the completion of discovery under Chapter 8 (commencing with Section  § 2024.010) to permit the deposition of any expert to whom the motion relates to be taken within that time limit. Under exceptional circumstances, the court may permit the motion to be made at a later time.

(c) The motion shall be accompanied by a meet and confer declaration under Section 2016.040.

Continue Reading So, You Forgot to Serve Your Expert Disclosure – Now What?

In Shadow Traffic Network v. Superior Court (1994) 24 Cal.App.4th 1067, the Court of Appeal stated that where counsel retains an expert consultant with confidential information concerning the opponent’s case, there is a rebuttable presumption that the expert shared that confidential information with the counsel that retained him or her, which requires disqualification. See Evid Code §606 on the effect of a presumption. To prevent disqualification, the presumption must be rebutted with an affirmative evidentiary showing that no confidential materials were transmitted. This showing has been met by including the writings that were transmitted and what topics were discussed verbally, which would demonstrate that the offending material was not transmitted. However, be mindful that it is not just the precise materials, but also the benefit of the confidential materials that must be rebutted: Continue Reading The Other Side Retained My Consultant – Should They Be Disqualified?

On July 29, 2021, in the case of Braganza v. Albertson’s LLC, (2021) 67 Cal. App. 5th 144, the Fourth District Appellate District affirmed the trial court’s denial of Plaintiff’s motion to continue the hearing for a Motion for Summary Judgment and thereafter granting the defense’s motion. The key: Plaintiff’s counsel sought the continuance on the ground that she needed additional discovery to oppose the motion but did not demonstrate diligence in timely conducting discovery before seeking the continuance. Continue Reading You Must be Diligent in Discovery to get a MSJ/MSA Continued

Sometimes, when you follow the rules regarding the expert witness demand and the initial expert witness disclosure and declaration and are now in receipt of opposing party’s expert disclosure, you find that the opposing party plans to call experts at trial in a subject area which you assumed wouldn’t require expert testimony, or that you hadn’t anticipated. If you didn’t disclose experts on the subject, you can serve a Supplemental Expert Disclosure within 20 days of the exchange of expert witness disclosure. Continue Reading I didn’t know I needed an expert on that…

If a party has timely served a Demand for Simultaneous Exchange of Expert Trial Witness Information pursuant to Code of Civil Procedure section 2034.210, then “all parties who have appeared in the action shall exchange information concerning expert witnesses in writing on or before the date of exchange specified in the demand.”C.C.P. §2034.260(a). Unless there is a court order specifying otherwise, that date for the simultaneous exchange is 50 days before the initial trial date, or 20 days after service of the demand, whichever is closer to the trial date. C.C.P. §2034.230(b).

Continue Reading 50 Days Before Trial—It’s Expert Disclosure Time

The biggest burden in bringing motions to compel further responses is the preparation of the separate statement of items in dispute pursuant to CRC, Rule 3.1345. In my blogs and at seminars, I have advised parties to prepare their meet and confer letters in the format of a separate statement. See my blog “EXHIBIT A—The Meet and Confer Letter.” As a Discovery Referee I have required parties to exchange Discovery in Word format. I find electronic forms for Discovery, especially in Word, are helpful for two reasons: (1) the parties can meet and confer using the “Track Changes” function in Word and hopefully agree on the modifications to the propounded written Discovery, and (2) parties can easily prepare the separate statement of items in dispute if a motion needs to be filed. This electronic Discovery process takes out the grunt work of having to retype the interrogatories, requests for admissions and requests for documents, as well as their responses when preparing or responding to the separate statement when only a hard copy was served.

Continue Reading In Order to Facilitate the Discovery Process–Serve Your Discovery in Electronic Form