I am pleased to report that the California Judicial Council has approved for use Form Interrogatories—Construction Litigation (form DISC-005). The approved form will be on the Judicial Council website at http://www.courts.ca.gov/forms.htm in December and will become effective January 1, 2013.
These interrogatories follow the same format as the other Judicial Council form interrogatories. The instructions at the beginning are essentially the same as those of the other form interrogatories, with two exceptions:
- In residential construction cases the use of the interrogatories is five residential single-family homes or housing units. In cases involving six or more single-family homes or housing units or in a case deemed complex under rule 3.400 of the California Rules of court, a party must obtain judicial approval prior to their use. The rationale behind this limitation was that in these instances there is the potential of abuse and the case would be on direct calendar or a special master/discovery referee would be involved.
- The instructions recognize that a document depository is created in many construction cases, so form permits interrogatory responses that point to specific documents in such a depository that contain the information sought.
Other notable aspects of the proposed construction form interrogatories include the following:
As with other civil form interrogatories, parties may attach additional individually crafted interrogatories.
- The definitions section in the instructions of the construction form interrogatories parallels the list in the general civil form interrogatories but add or substitute terms specific to construction litigation. Because “incident” would be confusing as a defined term in construction interrogatories, that term has been replaced with “construction claim” and “construction defect claim”; the asking party still has the option of crafting custom definitions for these two defined terms, just as with “Incident” in the civil interrogatories.
- The construction interrogatories are intended to serve as a single integral set of interrogatories rather than as a discrete set of specialty interrogatories for use as an addition or supplement to other form interrogatories, so they include interrogatories on several topics included in the general civil form interrogatories, with several of those tailored to more specifically address construction cases.
- None of the questions concerning personal injury from the general form interrogatories are included in the proposed form. Such interrogatories would rarely be applicable in a construction case with the exception of the mold cases, and the committee concluded that their presence in this set would unnecessarily complicate the form.
I, again, want to thank each of the committee members for their hard work and dedication. Despite their differences with one another on various issues, as a whole we worked hard as a team and were proud of our end product. I also want to thank Anne Ronan, staff Attorney for the Judicial Council, who too worked endless hours on this project. Most of all I want to thank the Civil and Small Claims Committee for recognizing all the hard work the attorneys have dedicated to making the Form Interrogatories–Construction Litigation a reality by recommending the interrogatories and inviting the public to comment. And, finally, I want to thank the Judicial Council for approving the form interrogatories.
If you have any questions regarding the Form Interrogatories–Construction Litigation, please do not hesitate to contact me.