Consider the following question I received from a defense attorney.

“Plaintiff timely served updated verified responses to Form Interrogatories, Set #1, #6.4, 8.4, 8.6, 16.1- 16.8 and 17.1 (RFA #5) pursuant to a Supplemental Interrogatory request.  Instead of providing the information requested in the interrogatories, Plaintiff responded to each of the interrogatories with the following response: 

Pursuant to CCP §2030.230, Plaintiff identifies the documents Bates Stamped 00001 – 00290 she produced on March 1, 2024

The email went on to ask if Plaintiff’s response was proper. The answer is no.

Reason #1:     Plaintiff failed to meet her obligations under C.C.P. §2030.220 in responding to Defendants’ Supplemental Interrogatories.  The code requires that a party must make a reasonable and good faith effort to obtain the information in responding to interrogatories C.C.P. §2030.220; Regency Health Services, Inc. v. Superior Court (1998) 64 CA4th 1496. “A party cannot plead ignorance to information which can be obtained from sources under his control.” Deyo v. Kilbourne (1978) 84 CA3d 771, 779. This includes a party’s lawyer (Smith v. Superior Court (1961) 189 CA2d 6, 12); agents or employees (Gordon v. Sup. Ct. (1984) 161 CA 3d 151, 167-168); family members (Jones v. Superior Court (1981) 119 CA 3d 534, 552); and experts who have been retained by a party. Sigerseth v. Superior Court (1972) 23 CA 3d 427, 433Cal. Prac. Guide: Civil Procedure Before Trial (TRG 2024) ¶ 8:1051-1060. This means that an attorney can’t just attach 290 documents with no descriptions.  Sinaiko Healthcare Consulting, Inc. v. Pacific Healthcare Consultants (2007) 148 CA4th 390. The statute and the case law make it very clear that a party and the attorney must be proactive in obtaining the information to enable them to fully respond to the interrogatories.  

Reason #2:     Plaintiff’s reference to 290 documents is improper. The code does not require Defendants to cull through 290 documents and guess what Plaintiff’s responses might be. If an interrogatory requires “reference to some other document, it should be identified, and its contents summarized so that the answer by itself is fully responsive to the interrogatory.” Cal. Prac. Guide:  Civil Procedure Before Trial (TRG 2024) ¶8:1049 citing Deyo v. Kilbourne (1978) 84 CA3d 771 at 783,149.  As can be seen by the response, the documents are neither summarized nor identified to any specific interrogatory. In essence, Plaintiff’s response is similar to “see my files and records,” which has been found to not be a proper response.  See Cal. Prac. Guide: Civil Procedure Before Trial (TRG 2024) citing Fuss v. Sup. Ct. (1969) 273 CA2d 807, 815-817.  

Reason #3:     Plaintiff has not complied with C.C.P. §2030.230, which reads:

If the answer to an interrogatory would necessitate the preparation or the making of a compilation, abstract, audit, or summary of or from the documents of the party to whom the interrogatory is directed, and if the burden or expense of preparing or making it would be substantially the same for the party propounding the interrogatory as for the responding party, it is a sufficient answer to that interrogatory to refer to this section and to specify the writings from which the answer may be derived or ascertained. This specification shall be in sufficient detail to permit the propounding party to locate and to identify, as readily as the responding party can, the documents from which the answer may be ascertained. The responding party shall then afford to the propounding party a reasonable opportunity to examine, audit, or inspect these documents and to make copies, compilations, abstracts, or summaries of them.

Plaintiff’s response fails to show:

  • a compilation, abstract, audit or summary of its records is necessary in order to answer the interrogatory; 
  • no such compilation etc. presently exists; and 
  • the burden or expense of preparing or making it would be substantially the same for the asking party as it would for the answering party.   

See Cal. Prac. Guide: Civil Procedure Before Trial (TRG 2024) at ¶ 8:1066 citing C.C.P. §2030.230

Reason #4:     Plaintiff’s reliance on C.C.P. §2030.230 is not available to Plaintiff in responding to Form Interrogatories #6.4, 8.4, 8.6, 16.1- 16.8 and 17.1, as the interrogatories asking for specific information (i.e., facts, witness and identification of documents) and not a compilation.

In short and in summary, a supplemental interrogatory must be treated as any other interrogatory.  The attorney must perform a diligent search for information. If the interrogatory requires reference to a document, the document should be identified, and its contents summarized so that the answer by itself is fully responsive to the interrogatory. Only if the the documents are voluminous and it is burdensome to to make a compilation does the responding party have the option of responding pursuant to C.C.P. §2030.230.

There are two significant changes to the Discovery Act this year: C.C.P. §2016.090 and C.C.P. §2023.050.  My California Civil Discovery: Chart for the Everyday Litigator has been updated to reflect these changes. 

Code of Civil Procedure §2016.090—Initial Disclosures

Effective January 1, 2024, Code of Civil Procedure §2016.090 allows a party to serve a demand for Initial Disclosure.  The statute reads:

(1) Within 60 days of a demand by any party to the action, each party that has appeared in the action, including the party that made the demand, shall provide to the other parties an initial disclosure that includes all of the following information:

(A) The names, addresses, telephone numbers, and email addresses of all persons likely to have discoverable information, along with the subjects of that information, that the disclosing party may use to support its claims or defenses, or that is relevant to the subject matter of the action or the order on any motion made in that action, unless the use would be solely for impeachment. The disclosure required by this subparagraph is not required to include persons who are expert trial witnesses or are retained as consultants who may later be designated as expert trial witnesses, as that term is described in Chapter 18 (commencing with Section 2034.010) of Title 4 of Part 4.

(B) A copy, or a description by category and location, of all documents, electronically stored information, and tangible things that the disclosing party has in its possession, custody, or control and may use to support its claims or defenses, or that is relevant to the subject matter of the action or the order on any motion made in that action, unless the use would be solely for impeachment.

(C) Any contractual agreement and any insurance policy under which an insurance company may be liable to satisfy, in whole or in part, a judgment entered in the action or to indemnify or reimburse for payments made to satisfy the judgment.

(D) Any and all contractual agreements and any and all insurance policies under which a person, as defined in Section 175 of the Evidence Code, may be liable to satisfy, in whole or in part, a judgment entered in the action or to indemnify or reimburse for payments made to satisfy the judgment. Only those provisions of an agreement that are material to the terms of the insurance, indemnification, or reimbursement are required to be included in the initial disclosure. Material provisions include, but are not limited to, the identities of parties to the agreement, the nature and limits of the coverage, and any and all documents regarding whether any insurance carrier is disputing the agreement’s or policy’s coverage of the claim involved in the action.  (C.C.P. §2016.090(a)(1))

  • A party is obligated to make its initial disclosures based on the information then reasonably available to it.  (C.C.P. §2016.090(a)(2))
  • A party’s disclosures must be verified either in a written declaration by the party or the party’s authorized representative or signed by the party’s counsel.  (C.C.P. §2016.090(a)(5))
  • A party that has made, or responded to, a demand for an initial disclosure may propound a supplemental demand twice before the initial setting of a trial date, and once after the initial setting of a trial date.  A party may also be granted a fourth disclosure upon the showing of good cause. (C.C.P. §2016.090(a)(3))
  • A party’s obligations under this section may be enforced by a court on its own motion or the motion of a party to compel disclosure.  (C.C.P. §2016.090(a)(4))
  • This statute does not apply to cases involving unlawful detainers, small claims, family law, probate, or cases granted preference.  (C.C.P. §2016.090(b))  It also does not apply to cases where a party is not represented by counsel.  (C.C.P. §2016.090(c))

While the disclosure statute was an attempt to streamline the exchange of information, the new disclosure rules are inferior to the existing statutes regarding interrogatories and requests for production of documents.  I predict that enforcement of the statute as well as any motion to exclude evidence due to the failure to provide the information in the disclosure will be difficult.  This all will be discussed in a further blog.  While the statute appears to be an easy way to seek preliminary information, I recommend that you serve the Judicial Council Form Interrogatories to obtain your opponent’s fact witness and their insurance information, and serve a standard request for production of documents that are “reasonably particularized.”  Your discovery will be due in 30 days instead of 60 days and there will be no question that your discovery requests will be enforceable.

 Mandatory Sanctions Regarding Requests for Production of Documents

On January 1, 2020, Code of Civil Procedure  §2023.050 became effective, which required the court to impose $250.00 mandatory sanctions on motions involving requests for production of documents. This set up a party’s ability to bring issue, evidence, and terminating sanctions due to the prior mandatory monetary sanction.  Effective January 1, 2024, Code of Civil Procedure §2023.050 now reads that the mandatory sanctions are $1000.00.  Remember this statute. It will come in handy.  

According to the Second District Court of Appeal in the family law case of In Re Marriage of Rangell decided on September 28, 2023 the answer is YES!  The Court of Appeal found that the husband had violated numerous family court orders for over two years and that the court’s imposition of sanctions pursuant to Family Code Family Code §271 was not abusive. In upholding the trial court’s imposition of $1000 a day sanction until the husband had complied with the court’s orders, the Court of Appeal stated: 

The lesson here to [husband] is plain: he cannot repeatedly flout the court’s orders for years and expect to get away with it, when his conduct delayed [Wife’s] enjoyment of her share of community property and caused her to incur additional attorney fees and costs in enforcing the court’s orders. “‘Somewhere along the line, litigation must cease.’ [Citation.] [Husband] has yet to absorb this message,” warranting sanctions. (In re Marriage of Tharp (2010) 188 Cal.App.4th 1295, 1317–1318, 1320 [116 Cal. Rptr. 3d 375] [“When making the award, the family court shall consider [Husband’s] dilatory tactics … and the policy of imposing sanctions in an amount sufficient to deter future similar conduct.”].)

This is another recent case where the Court of Appeal has come down hard on parties who have repeatedly violated court orders. Though the case was decided under Family Code §271, the rationale is applicable to other civil cases.     

Scenario:         A party makes outrageous claims against your client that is not supported by the facts.  Their lawyer repeats these claims in hearings before the court, placing you in a position of trying to argue against the falsity, and making sure that false allegations being made doesn’t prejudice the court against you and your client prior to the trial. 

The discovery plans in these cases are different than the other litigated cases.  Your goal is to discredit the false allegations either by  affirmatively proving that the allegation is false or showing that there is no evidence to support the false allegations in order to bring a motion for summary judgment/summary adjudication and motions in limine. In order to accomplish these goals your discovery plan will need to be strategic as well as a being thoroughly planned out as to what discovery devices will be the most effective.

Continue Reading Proving That the Opposing Parties Accusations are False–Is Like Peeling an Onion

In my Discovery Referee cases I am seeing more motions going to the brink with one party bringing a motion for issue, evidence and/or terminating sanctions.   Many of the motions are denied without prejudice due to the papers being deficient in showing a history of abuse and prejudice to the propounding party that warrant the granting of the motion.  This blog discusses the law regarding the court’s ability to award issue, evidence and terminating sanctions and what you need in your motion to be successful.   

Continue Reading When Money is Not Enough–The Request for “Drastic Sanctions”

The Onglyza Product Cases, A165387 decided on April 19, 2023 by the First District Court of Appeal is a case to be aware of.  

The case involved 13 California state cases coordinated under a Judicial Council Coordination proceeding (JCCP) regarding the drug of Onglyza and Kombiglyze which contained the active ingredient saxagliptin a medicine for type 2 diabetes. Plaintiffs’ alleged that they were injured as the active ingredient can cause heart failure.  The trial court ordered the parties to conduct discovery in phases.  The first phase covered percipient and expert discovery on the issue of general causation, noting that the litigation would then proceed as to other issues only if plaintiffs were able to show that the defendant’s drugs caused the injuries alleged.  Following expert discovery, the defendants moved to exclude Plaintiffs’ causation expert, a Dr. Goyal.  Defendants’ claimed in a Daubert/Sargon hearing that Dr. Goyal was either unqualified to offer his proposed opinions, or that the basis of the opinions were incomplete and didn’t support causation.  

Continue Reading Beware if Your Expert is Disqualified!!

After reviewing the 2023 discovery statutes, there have been changes to the following statutes:

The most significant change in the 2023 discovery statutes is the repealing of C.C.P. 2016.080 Informal Discovery Conference. See discovery blog titled “If Meet and Confer fails, Ask for Help.”  Also, make sure to check your local rules and determine if your court will still use informal discovery conferences.

C.C.P. §2025.310        Deposition via remote means; Who must appear in person; Procedure

Added the second sentence to paragraph (b) which states: 

If a party or attorney of record elects to be physically present at the location of the deponent, all physically present participants in the deposition shall comply with local health and safety ordinances, rules, and orders.

Continue Reading It’s a New Year and there are New Discovery Laws

On October 20, 2022, the Second District Court of Appeal ruled in City of Los Angeles v. PricewaterhouseCoopers, LLC (2022) 84 CA5th 466 found that a party cannot just rely solely on Code of Civil Procedure §2023.010 in bringing a motion for discovery sanctions. Instead, a party must bring the motion for sanctions based on the abuse in relation to a specific discovery device and its statute for the imposition of sanctions. Those statutes for protective orders and motions to compel are  Code of Civil Procedure §2025.410, §2025.420, §2025.430 and §2025.440 for depositions, §2030.090, §2030.290 and §2030.300 for interrogatories, §2031.060, §2031.300 and §2031.310 for requests for production, §2032.030, §2032.240, §2032.250, §2032.410. §2032.420 and §2032.620 for independent medical examinations, §2033.080, §2033.270 and §2033.290 for requests for admissions and §2034.250 and §2034.300 for experts. Otherwise, the award of sanctions is improper.

Continue Reading Where’s the Authority to Award Sanctions?

On January 1, 2023, fellow San Francisco Superior Court Pro Tem Discovery Judge, Douglas Robbins, published “The California Discovery Manual 2023“, which is full of helpful “Practice Notes.” One such practice note titled “Responding to Refusals to Answer” provides a strategy when a deponent refuses to answer the question posed due to the instruction by their attorney not to answer. I hope you find it as helpful as I did.

“A common area of abuse occurs when attorneys instruct a witness to not answer a deposition question. Instructions to refuse to answer should occur only in response to questions implicating a privilege or right such as the attorney-client privilege, the spousal/marital privileges, the right to refrain from self-incrimination, and the like. All other objections, say for relevance, for hearsay, and even for “harassment,” cannot justify an instruction to the witness to refuse to answer. If a deposition has truly become unreasonably harassing, the deponent’s remedy is not to refuse to answer questions but rather to suspend the deposition, walk out the door, and immediately move for a protective order.

Continue Reading What to do When the Deponent Refuses to Answer 

One of the most common questions I am asked is: when does the clock start regarding bringing motions to compel written discovery? The statutes all contain the same language, but it’s not that easy to decipher. Below is a list of scenarios with the applicable statutes and case law regarding the different responses you may receive.

FAILURE TO RESPOND There is no time limit on bringing the motion to compel the response to the Interrogatories, or the request for production of documents, or have the admissions be deemed admitted. See CCP §§2030.290(b), 2031.300(b) and 2033.280.

RESPONSES WITHOUT VERIFICATION  There is no time limit on bringing the motion, as an unverified response is tantamount to no response. See Cal. Prac Guide: Civil Procedure Before Trial (TRG 2022) 8:1102 citing Appleton v. Sup. Ct. (1988) 206 CA3d 632, 636.

RESPONSES WITH ONLY OBJECTIONS  Need to bring the motion within 45-days of service of the response. See CCP §§2030.300(c), 2031.310(c), and 2033.290(c).

Responses that only contain objections need not be verified by the party but the response must be signed by the attorney.  See CCP §§ 2030.250(a),(c), 2031.250(a),(c), 2033.250(a), (c) and  Cal. Prac Guide: Civil Procedure Before Trial (TRG 2022) 8:1113 citing Blue Ridge Ins. Co. v. Sup. Ct. (1988) 202 CA3d 339, 344.

RESPONSES WITH ANSWERS AND OBJECTIONS  Need to bring the motion within 45-days of service of the response. See CCP CCP §§2030.300(c), 2031.310(c), and 2033.290(c).

The Fourth District Court of Appeal in the case of Golf & Tennis Pro Shop, Inc. v. Superior Court, 2022 Cal. App. LEXIS 855 answered the question whether the 45-day period to file a motion to compel further responses begins to run upon service of a combination of unverified responses and objections if the motion challenges only the objections. The Court held that “the most reasonable construction of the applicable statutes seems to us to require verification of such a hybrid of responses and objections before the time period begins to run.”

The response must be signed under oath by the responding party and the attorney. See CCP §§ 2030.250(a),(c), 2031.250(a),(c), 2033.250(a), (c) and  Cal. Prac Guide: Civil Procedure Before Trial (TRG 2022) 8:1113 citing Blue Ridge Ins. Co. v. Sup. Ct. (1988) 202 CA3d 339, 344.

AMENDED RESPONSES The clock on a motion to compel further responses begins to run once the “supplemental verified responses” are served. See CCP §§2030.290(b), 2031.300(b) and 2033.280.  See Golf & Tennis Pro Shop, Inc. v. Superior Court, 2022 Cal. App. LEXIS 855.


Stipulations to extend the time to bring a motion to compel further responses must be in writing with a date certain. See Cal. Prac Guide: Civil Procedure Before Trial (TRG 2022) 8:1148 and CCP CCP §§2030.300(c), 2031.310(c), and 2033.290(c).

Delaying the motion beyond the 45-day limit waives your right to bring a motion to compel as the court loses jurisdiction. See Vidal Sassoon, Inc. v. Superior Court (1983) 147 Cal. App. 3d 681 at 683-684 and Sexton v. Superior Court (1997) 58 CA4th 1403, 1409-1410

The court may toll the deadline for filing a discovery motion if an Informal Discovery Conference is requested pursuant to CCP §2016.280. See blog “If Meet and Confer Fails, Ask for Help.”

Continue Reading When Do I Have to Bring a Motion to Compel Written Discovery?