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Special interrogatories in California litigation

Special interrogatories in California litigation are the topic of this blog post.

This post will mainly discuss the use of special interrogatories in California civil litigation. However, special interrogatories can also be used in other types of California litigation such as divorce or probate litigation.

Special interrogatories are a vital tool for obtaining the facts, witnesses and documents on which a contention is based so they can be reviewed.

Laws governing special interrogatories in California.

The rules governing special interrogatories are found in Code of Civil Procedure § 2030.010, et seq.

Code of Civil Procedure § 2030.010 states that, “(a) Any party may obtain discovery within the scope delimited by Chapters 2 (commencing with Section 2017.010) and 3 (commencing with Section 2017.710), and subject to the restrictions set forth in Chapter 5 (commencing with Section 2019.010), by propounding to any other party to the action written interrogatories to be answered under oath. (b) An interrogatory may relate to whether another party is making a certain contention, or to the facts, witnesses, and writings on which a contention is based. An interrogatory is not objectionable because an answer to it involves an opinion or contention that relates to fact or the application of law to fact, or would be based on information obtained or legal theories developed in anticipation of litigation or in preparation for trial.”

Limitations on special interrogatories in California.

A defendant may propound special interrogatories at any time, however a plaintiff may not do so until at least ten (10) days have passed since service of the summons on the defendant, or the general appearance by the defendant, whichever occurs first.  See Code of Civil Procedure § 2030.020.

There is a numerical limit of thirty five (35) on the number of special interrogatories. However if a supporting declaration stating that any additional interrogatories are warranted due to the complexity of the case and other certain factors is attached, then any party may propound more additional special interrogatories.  See Code of Civil Procedure §§ 2030.030 and 2030.050. These rules only apply in an unlimited civil case, in which the amount being demanded in the lawsuit is more than $25,000.

Format restrictions on special interrogatories in California.

There are certain format restrictions on special interrogatories. No special interrogatory may contain subparts, or a compound, conjunctive or disjunctive question.  See Code of Civil Procedure § 2030.060.  This means that a special interrogatory cannot contain parts a, b, c, etc., nor can it contain a question with more than one part, and it cannot contain the word “and” which is conjunctive, it also cannot contain the word “or” which is disjunctive. Although many special interrogatories do violate these format rules any party using such a format runs the risk of the opposing party objecting on those grounds.

While depositions are also a vital tool they have limitations, particularly the fact that deposition questions may not ask party deponent to state all facts, list all witnesses and identify all documents that support or pertain to particular contention in that party’s pleadings, although that information is discoverable when sought by written interrogatory.  Rifkind v. Superior Court (1994) 22 Cal.App.4th 1255, 1257. (Emphasis added.)

The California courts have ruled that the scope of discovery in California civil litigation is very broad. Any doubts are applied liberally in favor of discovery.

For discovery purposes, information is relevant if it might reasonably assist a party in evaluating case, preparing for trial, or facilitating settlement. Gonzalez v. Superior Court (City of San Fernando (1995) 33 Cal.App.4th 1539, 1546.

Admissibility is not the test and information, unless privileged, is discoverable if it might reasonably lead to admissible evidence. Davies v. Superior Court (1984) 36 Cal.3d 291, 301

Special interrogatories are very useful in that they allow a party to obtain the facts, witnesses and documents that support the opposing party’s claims or defenses.

Sample special interrogatories for use in California.

Attorneys or parties to civil litigation in California who wish to view a portion of sample special interrogatories for use in an unlimited civil case for sale by the author can see below.

 

California discovery litigation document package containing over 45 sample documents.

Attorneys or parties in California that would like more information on a California discovery litigation document package containing over 45 sample documents including sample special interrogatories can use the link shown below.

California discovery litigation document package

The author of this article, Stan Burman, is a freelance paralegal who has worked in California and Federal litigation since 1995 and has created over 300 sample legal documents for sale. 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.

*Do you want to use this article on your website, blog or e-zine? You can, as long as you include this blurb with it: “Stan Burman is the author of over 300 sample legal documents for California and Federal litigation and is the author of a free weekly legal newsletter. You can receive 10 free gifts just for subscribing. Just visit freeweeklylegalnewsletter.gr8.com/ for more information.

Follow the author on Twitter at: https://twitter.com/LegalDocsPro

DISCLAIMER:

Please note that the author of this blog post, Stan Burman is NOT an attorney and as such is unable to provide any specific legal advice. The author is NOT engaged in providing any legal, financial, or other professional services, and any information contained in this blog post is NOT intended to constitute legal advice.

The materials and information contained in this blog post have been prepared by Stan Burman for informational purposes only and are not legal advice. Transmission of the information contained in this blog post is not intended to create, and receipt does not constitute, any business relationship between the author and any readers. Readers should not act upon this information without seeking professional counsel.

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5 Responses

  1. Extremely useful, I would recommend it very much?
    SJQ

    Like

  2. Ahhh thank you, this site was more than helpful. I’m in pro se in a libel suit against me by my previous attorney. I needed info on whether it is appropriate to submit spec interrogs to my witnesses, considering they are the plaintiff’s previously employed attorneys. Your site was most helpful and thank you!
    SAT

    Like

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