Filing a motion to compel further responses to requests for production of documents 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 provide full and complete responses to requests for production of documents.
Code of Civil Procedure 2031.310 states: (a) On receipt of a response to an inspection demand, the party demanding an inspection may move for an order compelling a further response to the demand if the demanding party deems that any of the following apply: (1) A statement of compliance with the demand is incomplete. (2) A representation of inability to comply is inadequate, incomplete, or evasive. (3) An objection in the response is without merit or too general.
The motion to compel MUST be filed and served no later than 45 days from the date that the inadequate responses are received or the motion is untimely. California Rule of Court 3.1020 requires that a separate statement be filed and served listing the discovery requests, the response to the request, and the basis for compelling a further response.
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.
This means more than just sending one letter, or making one phone call. It is good practice to send the first meet and confer letter requesting further responses within 10 days, if no responses are received, then another meet and confer letter should be sent mentioning the first letter and demanding further responses within 7 days. If no responses are received then a phone call should be made in a last attempt to work something out.
Code of Civil Procedure § 2031.240(b) states, in pertinent part: (b) If the responding party objects to the demand for inspection of an item or category of item or category of item, the response shall do both of the following: (1) Identify with particularity any document, tangible thing, or land falling within any category of item in the demand to which an objection is made. (2) Set forth clearly the extent of, and the specific ground for, the objection. If an objection is based on a claim of privilege, the particular privilege invoked shall be stated. If an objection is based on a claim that the information is protected under Chapter 4, that claim shall be expressly asserted.
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.
False or evasive answers or the posting of objections without a proper basis is grounds for discovery sanctions. Code of Civil Procedure § 2023.010(f). Moreover, objections must be specific; a motion to compel lies where objections are too general. Korea Data Systems Ltd. Co. v. Superior Court, 51 Cal.App.4th 1513, 1516, (1997) (holding that objecting party was subject to sanctions for boilerplate objections).
And the objections that the discovery sought is burdensome and harassing is also considered a weak objection.
Courts are loathe to sustain an objection on the ground that the discovery is burdensome and harassing because it is considered a weak objection. It is not enough that the question or questions are burdensome; the objecting party must also demonstrate that the questions are so unjust that they amount to oppression. West Pico Furniture Co. v. Superior Court, 56 Cal.2d 407, 419, (1961).
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 to litigation in California who wish to purchase a sample motion to compel further responses to requests for production of documents for use in an unlimited civil case can see below.
Attorneys or parties in California that would like more information on a California law and motion litigation document package containing over 55 sample documents including a motion to compel further responses to requests for production of documents can use the link shown below.
The author of this article, Stan Burman, is a freelance paralegal who has worked in California and Federal litigation since 1995.
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