Recently I was contacted to help on a party’s Motion to Compel Further Responses to Form Interrogatories, Requests for Production of Documents, and Requests for Admissions. In viewing opposing counsel’s responses to the discovery, I gazed upon the General Response and Objections preamble in absolute astonishment. It read as follows:
These responses are made solely for the purposes of this action. In responding to any request or part thereof, the Responding Party does not concede the relevancy of the request or of the subject to which that request refers. The specific response to any request is made expressly subject to, and without in any way waiving or intending to waive, any objections as to the competency, relevancy, privilege or admissibility of evidence for any other purpose, of any of the documents referred to or of the response or objections given herein or the subject matter thereof, in a proceeding including trial of this action, or in any other subsequent proceedings. These responses are made specifically subject to the right to object to any discovery proceeding involving or relating to the subject matter of the request.
The Responding Party has not completed his investigation of the facts related to this action nor has he completed his preparation for trial in this case. Thus, all responses or objections to the Production Request are given without prejudice to the Responding Party’s right to produce evidence of any subsequently discovered facts, and of any and all further information as such becomes known to him.
It is anticipated that further discovery, independent investigation, legal research and analysis may supply additional facts, add meaning to the known facts, as well as establish entirely new factual conclusions and legal contentions, all of which may lead to additions, modifications of, and variations from the response set forth herein.
The following responses are given without prejudice to the right to produce evidence of any subsequently discovered fact or facts with the Responding party may later recall. Without acknowledging any duty to do so except as required by law, the Responding Party accordingly reserves the right to amend any and all responses herein as additional facts are ascertained, analyses are made, legal research is completed, and contentions are made. The responses contained herein are as complete and straightforward as the information reasonably available to the Responding Party in relation to further discovery, research or analysis.
The Responding Party objects to the production request to the extent that it purports to impose obligations upon the Responding party which are other then or in addition to, the requirements of the California Constitution, the California Code of Civil Procedure (“C.C.P.”) and applicable case authority.
The Responding Party further objects to the [Form Interrogatories, Request for Production of Documents, Requests for Admissions] production requests to the extent that the definitions and instructions provided in Petitioner’s request are vague, ambiguous, and are beyond the scope of permissible discovery.
Without waving any of the above objections…
If you read this preamble closely, you can see that it relieved the responding party of all obligations required by the Discovery Act. It also gave the responding party the ability to modify the response and raise any objection at any time including trial with no ramifications. In other words, you have worthless discovery responses that the responding party cannot be bound to.
The Code of Civil Procedure and the current case law make it very clear that:
There is no such thing as a “General Objection”
A party has an obligation to respond to discovery in good faith.
A party is required to make a “diligent search” and a “reasonable inquiry” when responding to requests for production of documents.
A party must object separately to each interrogatory, request for admission and request for production of documents.
Failure to timely raise an objection to any interrogatory, request for admission or request for production of documents waives the objection.
A party is required to provide a privilege log for each document that is being withheld on the claim of relevancy or privilege.
A party’s discovery responses are admissible against them.
The court can order monetary, issue or evidence sanctions for a party’s failure to respond in good faith to any interrogatory, request for admission or request for production of documents.
Moral of the Story: You need to bring a motion to strike any “General Response and Objections” so the responding party can be held accountable for their responses. You don’t want a court to tell you that you have waived your rights by not bringing such a motion.