Chess Move.jpgAnswering Requests for Admissions is very similar to answering interrogatories–you have an obligation to respond in good faith and you have to be careful about your garbage objections.  However, the code makes it clear that the requirements in responding to Requests for Admissions are higher.                  

C.C.P. §2033.220 (pdf) titled Completeness of Responses; Reasonable Inquiry requires:

(a) Each answer in a response to requests for admission shall be as complete and straightforward as the information reasonably available to the responding party permits.

(b) Each answer shall:

(1) Admit so much of the matter involved in the request as is true, either as expressed in the request itself or as reasonably and clearly qualified by the responding party.

(2) Deny so much of the matter involved in the request as is untrue.

(3) Specify so much of the matter involved in the request as to the truth of which the responding party lacks sufficient information or knowledge.

(c) If a responding party gives lack of information or knowledge as a reason for a failure to admit all or part of a request for admission, that party shall state in the answer that a reasonable inquiry concerning the matter in the particular request has been made, and that the information known or readily obtainable is insufficient to enable that party to admit the matter.

The Discovery Act does not have such strident language for responding to interrogatories or an inspection demand.  This is because Requests for Admissions are not designed to uncover factual information.  Rather, their main purpose is to set issues at rest by compelling admission of things that cannot reasonably be controverted.  Weil and Brown, Cal. Prac. Guide: Civil Procedure Before Trial (TRG 2010), ¶8:1256 citing Shepard & Morgan v. Lee & Daniel, Inc. (1982) 31 C3d 256,261.    So when responding to Requests for Admissions, remember to answer as follows:

Admit:     If any portion of the Request for Admission is true then you must admit to that portion of the request.  You are also allowed to have a hybrid response– admit the part of the request that is true while denying another part.  See C.C.P. §2033.220(b)(1) and Valero v. Andrew Younquist Construction (2002) 103 CA 4th 1264, 1273 (pdf), 1273.  It is unclear whether or not you need to supply facts to make the request true.  However, it is a good idea if it puts the issue to rest.  See Weil and Brown, Cal. Prac. Guide: Civil Procedure Before Trial (TRG 2010), ¶8:1232 – 1234.

Deny:     The responding party should not deny based solely on quibbles of with the wording of the request.  It may be improper to deny a Request for Admission outright if the request is at least partially true.  See Weil and Brown, Cal. Prac. Guide: Civil Procedure Before Trial (TRG 2010), ¶8:1332.  A denial of all or any portion of the request must be unequivocal.  American Federation of State, County & Municipal Employees v. Metropolitan Water District of Southern California (2005) 126 CA4th, 247, 268 (pdf)  Weil and Brown, Cal. Prac. Guide: Civil Procedure Before Trial (TRG 2010), ¶8:1333-1334.1 give these helpful hints on what is unequivocal:

Denials on “Information and Belief”:    This is not a proper objection as it is neither “straight     forward” and complete nor is it one of the options listed C.C.P. §2033.220. Also, this is in essence a response claiming “inability to admit or deny” for lack of sufficient information which has additional requirements as discussed above. 

Unlike interrogatories and or inspection demands, failure to properly respond to Request for Admissions in a timely matter can have great repercussions for you and your client.   


All objections are waived. However, responding party may seek relief from the waiver similar to the way you can do it for interrogatories and inspection demands.  C.C.P. §2030.280(a) (pdf)

Motion for Admissions to be Deemed Admitted may be filed pursuant to C.C.P. §2030.280(b) (pdf).  The statute states “the court shall make this order” unless proposed responses” in substantial compliance with C.C.P. §2033.220 are filed before the hearing.  However, even though you filed delayed responses, you will be sanctioned because sanctions are MANDATORY pursuant to the code if your tardy responses came after the motion was filed. C.C.P. §2030.280(c) (pdf)


Untimely or unsworn responses to request for admissions are tantamount to no response at all.  Zorro, Inc. Co. V. Great Pacific Securities Corp. (1977) 69 CA3d 90 7 (pdf)  

Motion for Admissions to be Deemed Admitted also can be brought. C.C.P. §2030.280(b) (pdf)


The propounding party may bring a Motion to Compel Further Responses  or bring a Motion for Admissions to be Deemed Admitted if the answering party has not made a reasonable inquiry or has access to “readily available” information that would enable to admit or deny the matter.  Weil and Brown, Cal. Prac. Guide: Civil Procedure Before Trial (TRG 2010), ¶8:1348

Alternatively, costs may be awarded after trial against a party for failure to inform oneself before answering C.C.P. Section 2033.420(a).  The court may find there was no “good reason” for the failure to admit [Smith v. Circle P. Ranch Co., Inc. (1978) 87 CA3d 267–proof showing that responding party failed to investigate, when the means of obtaining the information were at hand, supports finding there were no “good reasons” for its denial; hence cost of proof sanctions were justified.] Weil and Brown, Cal. Prac. Guide: Civil Procedure Before Trial (TRG 2010), ¶ 8:1348


 If it is found that you have unreasonably denied a Request for Admission, you may be ordered to pay attorney’s fees and costs incurred by the propounding party in proving the matter.  C.C.P. §2033.420(b) (pdf).  This can occur either after a motion for summary judgment or trial.  See Weil and Brown, Cal. Prac. Guide: Civil Procedure Before Trial (TRG 2010), ¶8:1404 citing Barnett v. Penske Truck Leasing (2001) 90 CA4th 494, 497-499 Remember, that the cost of proof sanction is designed to compensate for unnecessary having to prove matters that should have been admitted.  Thus, cost of proof sanctions can be awarded even if the propounding party lost the case.  See 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.

Also, denying a matter that should have been admitted in a sworn response might also subject you to a criminal prosecution for perjury.  See CEB Section 9:53 citing Hoguin v. Sup. Ct.  (1972) 22 CA 3d 812, 820. 

 Hint:  Take the time and make the effort in responding to requests for admissions as your answers may come back and bite you if you don’t.

  • Richard

    Thanks for the information. I was searching for strategy and some guidance. Perhaps you could assist.

    One admission asks to admit that the defendant’s conduct did not cause plaintiff to lose her job. There were certainly several factors, and defendant’s conduct was one of them in my view. This is a question for the jury and I cannot predict whether the causation is there at this point nor will I ever until the verdict. The employment aspect is secondary to the main causes of action and involves damages more than anything else. Is this a question that could essentially cause my client to pay for attorneys fees and costs if the jury decides that his conduct did not cause her to lose her job? There is little doubt we win on the liability aspect of this case (its obviously not an employment case).

    -also, does unqualified response for Form Rog 17.1 arise when we deny a request for admission.

    -Last one, I already served them with requests for admissions but did not serve with form rogs for purposes of 17.1. If I want to now do that, do I have to serve them with a second set and the form rogs? Or can I just send the form rogs and reference set one.

    Thanks in advance. New attorney here!

  • Elena

    Just got “Responses” to RFAs. Nothng but relevance objecitions. No admissions or denials.

    Is this appropriate for a “deemed admitted” request?

    PS. The info sought is clearly relevant.

  • 1. Going Pro Se brings many challenges, the biggest, in my opinion, is trying to stay within the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and Local Rules both within time and scope. And,during my best to fight some highly paid counsel for a very rich corporation. However, after reading your excellent article on “Admissions”, that I am in process of submitting to Defendant, I am continue to be challenged by trying second guess the Defendant even as I seek righteous justice in this age discrimination case.

    2. I reckon a second concern is the Deposition that I will be giving. What more can they ask?

    Right now the Court has requested a Summary Judgement Request from the Defendant, I will respond to it, and then they will respond to my response. After 3 years and counting, have you been able to observe in your experience when a Settlement may be forthcoming? Is the Discovery Stage a good period? Either way, I am facing trying to get through pre-trial discovery and a possible strong plea for a summary judgement. I feel if I can get to the trial then that would be my best shot. THANKS!

  • I’m having difficulty in a “Limited Jurisdiction Case” as In Pro Per with getting answers to a Case Questionnaire delivered with Complaint and Summons.

    What I done so far:

    1) Filed Motion to Compel Responses to CQ.
    2) Hearing date set

    Defendant’s attorney has filed a March 4, 2013 motion to not answer the CQ and the hearing is scheduled for March 15, 2013.

    How can I be more aggressive here and gain some traction?

    Additionally, the attorney is ignoring all my discovery for admissions, Rogs and Production of Docs.

    Basically, he’s trashing my Discovery rights!!!! I can file motion to compel, motion to have deemed admitted and keeps on scr**wing with my rights to discovery.

  • By filing your motion, you have done everything you could do. Be prepared when you argue your motion with the court. Give concise bullet points when you are at the hearing. Listen to what the judge is saying and asking you to explain.

  • Fred Crocket

    My dilemma with one request is that it asks if the amount of damages being claimed is true. It seems to be asking me to admit there are damages, and confirm the amount they are suing for. However, in my case, an alleged credit card debt was purchased and this party is now claiming an amount they seem to have calculated themselves. I have no contract with this buyer (Lack of Privity) and by their own actions they came to be “harmed”. This last one seems the most significant, being scienti et volenti non fit injuria. My opinion is to object and state these reasons.

    I’m seeking legal advice in person, but am curious if this is a trap, and what I am obligated to say when language is clearly what the plaintiff should be proving with evidence.

  • c stevens

    opposing side sent discovery to me with declaration, and extra 60 interrogatories. requests for admission, documents, and form interrogatories.
    I filed motion for protective order, but through the drop box, ( in california) which did not
    give me a trial date. I went ahead and answer the guestions.
    Now I get a depositon subpoena to produce documents.

    The documents wanted are ones I objected to in initial discovery as to “they have access” they were
    emails, and joint financial contracts.

    Also the declaration to obtain answers to so many interrogatories states it is too costly to do a
    deposition, but now are doing a video taped deposition.

    Can I use my protective order filed within time frame prior and request protective order from the

  • If I was ruling on the protective order it would be denied. A party can use any of the discovery devices to get the same information. Also, a deposition is different then an answer to interrogatories. A deposition is testimony by the witness as to what he knows at that moment. It also allows the opposing to follow up on responses as well as determine the demeanor and veracity of the deponent. Interrogatories are answered by the attorney after obtaining the information from all available sources.

    In my opinion, the fact that the declaration of necessity was false, does not effect the deposition. However, it would be very influential if the opposing party served more interrogatories and requests for admissions.

  • Jan

    How do you respond to a RFA that misstates the facts?
    How do you respond to a RFA that is vague?