A Party's Failure To Respond To Discovery Requests

Written by Galen T. Shimoda and Erika Sembrano

During a lawsuit, a party may send written discovery requests to another party; by doing so, the party is requesting that the other party in the lawsuit respond to certain questions or requests. A party may also be required to respond to the written discovery requests sent by another party. This process is generally referred to as discovery. An entire piece of legislation, the Civil Discovery Act, governs this process in California. See California Code of Civil Procedure § 2016.010 et. seq. An important issue that arises is when a party fails to respond to written discovery requests because there are dire consequences for failing to respond by the deadline. This article will cover three commonly used methods of written discovery requests: interrogatories, inspection demands, and requests for admission.

During a lawsuit, a party may send written discovery requests to another party; by doing so, the party is requesting that the other party in the lawsuit respond to certain questions or requests. A party may also be required to respond to the written discovery requests sent by another party. This process is generally referred to as discovery. An entire piece of legislation, the Civil Discovery Act, governs this process in California. See California Code of Civil Procedure § 2016.010 et. seq. An important issue that arises is when a party fails to respond to written discovery requests because there are dire consequences for failing to respond by the deadline. This article will cover three commonly used methods of written discovery requests: interrogatories, inspection demands, and requests for admission.

Inspection demands, also known as requests for production of documents, allow a party to ask another party to produce certain documents for inspection or to allow an item or area to be inspected, such as asking a party to produce "Any and all non-privileged documents you identified in your responses to Special Interrogatories, Set One." Similar to interrogatories, the responding party typically has thirty days after service of the inspection demands to respond to the demands. If a party fails to respond within this deadline or any other agreed-upon deadline, the ramifications are similar to those for interrogatories. Specifically, first, the requesting party can ask the court for an order stating that the responding party has waived any objections to the demand, including objections based on privileges or work-product protections. Second, the requesting party can ask the court to compel responses. Lastly, the requesting party can ask the court to impose a monetary sanction against any party or attorney who unsuccessfully makes or opposes a motion to compel a response to the demand. Again, the requesting party has the obligation to request these from the court.

Requests for admission allow a party to ask another party to admit or deny particular facts, such as "Admit that John Smith is your employee." The responding party typically has thirty days after service to respond to these requests. Similar to interrogatories and inspection demands, once a party fails to respond within this deadline or any other agreed-upon deadline, the requesting party may ask the court to find that the responding party has waived any objections to the requests. However, this is where requests for admission are different than interrogatories and inspection demands. Instead of asking the court to compel responses, the requesting party can ask the court for an order specifying that the requests are admitted as true. Specifically, the requesting party can ask the court to recognize that the responding party admitted the facts as true. Also, the requesting party can request monetary sanctions simply based on the failure of the responding party to respond within the deadline or any other agreed-upon deadline. Similar to the other discovery requests, the requesting party must affirmatively ask the court for each of these options.

In conclusion, discovery is a process protected by California legislative authority. As such, a party's failure to respond to written discovery can have extreme consequences if the requesting party seeks such consequences from the court.

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The Shimoda Law Corp. legal articles should not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion on any specific facts or circumstances. The contents of these articles are intended for general information purposes only, and you are urged to consult a lawyer concerning your own situation and any specific legal questions you may have.

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