Motion to compel further responses to interrogatories in California

Filing a motion to compel further responses to interrogatories in California litigation is the topic of this blog post. Motions to compel can be a very useful tool in forcing the other party to providing full and complete responses to interrogatories.  The interrogatories could be either form interrogatories, or specially prepared interrogatories, known as special interrogatories.
 
Code of Civil Procedure § 2030.300  states:  (a) On receipt of a response to interrogatories, the propounding party may move for an order compelling a further response if the party deems that any of the following apply: (1) an answer to a particular interrogatory is evasive or incomplete…(3) An objection to an interrogatory is without merit or too general.

Before filing a motion to compel the party seeking to compel the further responses must make a reasonable effort to meet and confer with the other party to avoid the need for judicial intervention.  California Rule of Court 3.1020 requires that a separate statement be filed and served listing each discovery request, the response, and the basis for compelling a further response.

 The principal objective of statutes relating to interrogatories is to provide a discovery procedure directed to an adverse party. Associates Discount Corp. v. Tobb Co., 241 Cal.App.2d 541, 551 (1966). Judges have broad discretion in controlling course of discovery and making various decisions necessitated by discovery proceedings. Obregon v. Superior Court, 67 Cal.App.4th 424, 431-432 (1998).

Many times responses will contain “boilerplate” objections such as vague and ambiguous. General objections such as those are particularly vulnerable to a motion to compel.

General objections to an entire set of interrogatories are improper. See Code of Civil Procedure § 2030.210(a)(3).

Code of Civil Procedure § 2030.220(a) and (b) bestow an affirmative duty to provide a response that is as “complete and straightforward as the information reasonably available to the responding party permits.” False or evasive answers or the posting of objections without a proper basis is grounds for discovery sanctions. “Parties must state the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth in answering written interrogatories.” Scheiding v. Dinwiddie Const. Co., 69 Cal.App.4th 64, 76, (1999). Where the question is specific and explicit, an answer that supplies only a portion of the information sought is improper. Deyo v. Kilbourne, 84 Cal.App.3d 771, 783, (1978).

Furthermore, for a responding party to sustain an objection on the ground that the discovery is duplicative is essentially an “asked and answer” objection, which is also improper in responding to written discovery.

If the responding party deems the number of interrogatories excessive, then the appropriate method to challenge them is to seek a protective order under Code of Civil Procedure § 2030.090.

All costs associated with the motion to compel, including court costs and attorney fees are recoverable in filing a motion to compel. A party seeking a motion to compel should be sure to document all of their attempts to meet and confer, and also document all of their costs associated with filing the motion.

Attorneys or parties in California who wish to view a portion of a sample motion to compel further responses to special interrogatories for sale by the author can see below.

The author of this article, Stan Burman, is a freelance paralegal who has worked in California and Federal litigation since 1995. If you are in need of assistance with any California or Federal litigation matters, Mr. Burman is available on a freelance basis. Mr. Burman may be contacted by e-mail at DivParalgl@yahoo.com for more information. He accepts payments through PayPal which means that you can pay using most credit or debit cards.

Subscribe to his weekly newsletter with legal tips and tricks for California.  http://www.legaldocspro.net/newsletter.htm

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