A motion to compel responses to requests for production of documents in California is the topic of this blog post. Motions to compel can be a very useful tool in forcing the other party to provide full and complete responses to requests for production of documents.
Code of Civil Procedure § 2031.300(b) states that, if a party fails to respond to a demand for inspection of documents, the propounding party may move the court for an order compelling responses. As with interrogatories, there is no time limit for bringing the motion to compel. This only applies if NO responses are received, or if unverified responses are received.
In California, unsworn responses to discovery are tantamount to no responses at all. See Appleton v. Superior Court (1988) 206 Cal.App.3d 632, 636; Zorro Investment Company v. Great Pacific Securities Corporation (1977) 69 Cal.App.3d 907, 914. So if the responses received are not verified then a motion to compel responses would be the proper motion.
The party to whom the inspection demand is directed also waives any objection to the demand unless the party’s failure to serve a response was due to “mistake, inadvertence, or excusable neglect.” See Code of Civil Procedure § 2031.300(a). In addition, the court “shall” impose monetary sanctions against a party who unsuccessfully opposes a motion to compel unless it finds that the party acted “with substantial justification” or other circumstances render sanctions “unjust.” See Code of Civil Procedure § 2031.300[c].
Every court has the power to compel obedience to its judgments, orders, and process in an action or proceeding pending before and to use all necessary means to carry its jurisdiction into effect.Fairfield v. Superior Court, 246 Cal.App.2d 113, 120 (1966); Stewart v. Colonial Western Agency, Inc., 87 Cal.App.4th 1006, 1016 (2001) (judges have broad powers and responsibility to determine what measure and procedures are appropriate in varying circumstance involving discovery disputes).
Moreover, one of the principal purposes of civil discovery is to do away with the sporting theory of litigation, namely, surprise at trial and such purpose is accomplished by giving greater assistance to parties in ascertaining the truth. See Thoren v. Johnston and Washer, 29 Cal.App.3d 270, 274 (1972).
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).
Monetary discovery sanctions are mandatory. Argaman v. Ratan, 73 Cal.App.4th 1173, 1179 (1999); Frates v. Treder, 249 Cal.App.2d 199, 206 (1967) (refusal to answer interrogatories without substantial justification renders the refusal willful, thus giving rise to sanctions).
All costs associated with the motion to compel, including court costs and attorney fees are recoverable in filing a motion to compel.
Attorneys or parties to civil litigation in California who wish to purchase a motion to compel responses to requests for production of documents for use in a civil case can see below.
The author of this article, Stan Burman, is a freelance paralegal who has worked in California and Federal litigation. Visit his website at http://www.legaldocspro.com
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