The purpose of discovery is to take the “game” element out of trial preparation by enabling the parties to obtain evidence necessary to evaluate and resolve their dispute before a trial is necessary. Weil and Brown, Cal. Prac. Guide: Civil Procedure Before Trial (TRG 2018) ¶8:1 citing Greyhound Corp. v. Superior Court (1961) 55 C.2d. 355, 376.
Serving “[a]ppropriate written interrogatories are one of the means to accomplish the general goals of the discovery process designed to facilitate a fair trial.” (Juarez v. Boy Scouts of America, Inc. (2000) 81 CA4th 377, 389)
“Interrogatories expedite the resolution of lawsuits … [by detecting] sham claims and defenses … [and] may be employed to support a motion for summary judgment or a motion to specify those issues which are without substantial controversy.” Deyo v. Kilbourne (1978) 84 CA3d 771, 779
When responding to interrogatories, the Discovery Act requires a party to make a reasonable and good faith effort to obtain the information before responding to the interrogatories. 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, 782 This includes a party’s lawyer Smith v. Superior Court (Alfred) (1961) 189 CA2d 6, 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. See Weil and Brown, Cal. Prac. Guide: Civil Procedure Before Trial (TRG 2018) ¶8:1051-1060. This means that an attorney can’t just pawn off the responses to the client or spend an hour and dictate the responses off the top of his head. See Sinaiko Healthcare Consulting, Inc. v. Pacific Healthcare Consultants (2007) 148 CA4th 390.
Unfortunately, the propounding party often receives responses to their interrogatories that include a “General Objection” or a “Preliminary Statement”, which is improper, and garbage objections with no substantive responses. Responding parties even use garbage objections to Form Interrogatories which were drafted by the California Judicial Council (The Administrative Office of the Courts) and considered objection proof as to form. See Weil and Brown, Cal. Prac. Guide: Civil Procedure Before Trial (TRG 2018) ¶8:933.
It is patently obvious ungrounded refusal to answer, prolonged delay and incorrect answers to interrogatories seriously inhibit “the principal aim of discovery procedures in general [which] is to assist counsel to prepare for trial….” Smith v. Circle P. Ranch Company, et al. (1978) 87 Cal.App.3d 267, 273.
Bring your motion to compel further responses to interrogatories as you are entitled to proper responses and, hopefully, the court will make it clear to the responding party that such abuse of the discovery process will not be tolerated.