Last November I received the following e-mail:

Since courts are so overwhelmed and setting dates for hearing is now running 6 months or longer, how does one do motions to compel further responses to interrogatories in a meaningful way? I booked the first available date with the court, but it is not until next June and I need the responses in order to know what documents to request. Any ideas?

It is unfortunate that the California budget crisis has so imploded civil litigation in our courts. Despite the fact that discovery is the heart and soul or your case and you are entitled to compliance with your discovery requests; law and motion departments typically give discovery motions the lowest priority on their calendar. So, what do you do?
Continue Reading Is It Time to Appoint a Discovery Referee?

I was asked how do you handle discovery abuse when it is part of a deep pocket defendant’s litigation strategy. His story went like this:

Plaintiff’s counsel had been to court several times on motions to compel documents and motions to compel further documents from an international Corporation. The court’s most recent order was that the documents were to be served two weeks before the corporation’s person most knowledgeable depositions were to take place in London. Instead defendant produced 30,000 documents on a CD less than 24 hours before the London depositions were to begin. Plaintiff counsel went forward with the depositions as trial was in a month and his client could not afford for the lawyer to go to London another time. Plaintiff counsel expressed his frustrations that even though the court gave him $6000 in sanctions he was severely handicapped in his preparation for the depositions and it impacted on what evidence he could obtain before trial.

Even though this is an extreme example, it is not unusual. The real question is what could he have done and what should you do if you find yourself in this situation.
Continue Reading When Discovery Abuse is a Trial Strategy

When I hear of a Judge or Discovery Referee making a ruling which essentially tries to not make anybody angry and essentially splits 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.
Continue Reading A Judge Needs to Call Balls and Strikes on Discovery Motions

In most personal injury actions the plaintiff is served with a Notice for an Independent Medical Examination. It has become so commonplace that no one really thinks twice about the demand. However, there are a few requirements to this discovery device that defendant must comply with in order to perfect the request. Although obtaining an Independent Medical Examination may appear to be a simple process here are some interesting twists and turns that I have encountered that a defendant should consider before they serve their demand.
Continue Reading I’ve Got This Doctor You Gotta See!

Bringing a motion to secure this discovery prior to trial, is the most important step a plaintiff ‘s attorney can take in order to ensure she has placed herself and her client in the best position to secure a punitive damages award at trial. The burden warranting permission from the court to obtain the defendant’s financial records and information is a high one, but it is
 not an insurmountable one. Bringing a motion for discovery of financial records during the discovery stage is by far the best way to ensure, or at least greatly increase the chances, that you will be permitted to obtain these records in time. So what do you do?
Continue Reading Early Punitive Damages Discovery — Try It!!

Last spring I had the pleasure of taking a tour of the Royal Globe Theatre in London, England. On display there was a plaque titled “Quoting Shakespeare.” It brought a smile to my face when I read the passage as I realized how much of Shakespeare is in our everyday vernacular. There to I realized how many distinctive quotes there that I use over and over again as a Discovery Referee. Here are a few that you should keep handy to sprinkle into your arguments during your discovery battles.
Continue Reading Quoting Shakespeare

To determine whether or not a responding party has made a reasonable inquiry, you must determine where the responding party searched (what efforts were made), who did they talk to (did they make an inquiry to their legal department, human resources, customer relations, the employees in the chain of command, etc.), and what were the questions they asked.

More often then not I see responses to document requests being done (1) by the one with the highest bar number on the pleading (a.k.a. the newbie associate) and/or (2) by the attorney dictating at their desk instead of taking the time to sit down with the client, determining whom they should be talking to and knowing what questions to ask.

It is my opinion that the person who should be talking to the client and collecting the documents is the experienced senior attorney who has a relationship with the client and knows what questions to ask. If the senior attorney still chooses to delegate, then they need to be “hands on” and take responsibility whether or not a “diligent search” and “reasonable inquiry” were in fact made prior to the response and production being served.
Continue Reading INSPECTION DEMANDS-What is a Reasonable Inquiry?

Have you ever received a response to requests for production of documents that says:

After a diligent search and a reasonable inquiry has been made in an effort to comply with this Request, there are no documents within RESPONDING PARTY’s possession, custody, or control

Yet you question the veracity of the verified response, because they have got to have documents. So what can you do? This is a two-prong inquiry. The first being
Continue Reading INSPECTION DEMANDS-What is a Diligent Search

Cost of proof sanctions are designed to compensate for unnecessary expenses resulting from proving matters unreasonably denied. You don’t have to win the lawsuit to be awarded these sanctions. Weil and Brown, Cal. Prac. Guide: Civil Procedure Before Trial (TRG 2010), ¶8:1405 citing Smith v. Circle P Ranch Co., Inc. (1978) 87 CA3d, 267, 276. They way to win this motion is to set it up from the beginning.
Continue Reading GET YOUR COST OF PROOF SANCTIONS HERE!