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Motion to compel responses to interrogatories in California

This blog post will discuss the issues involved in filing a motion to compel responses to special interrogatories in California civil litigation. Motions to compel can be a very useful tool in forcing the other party into providing full and complete responses to special interrogatories.  Note that the same rules apply to form interrogatories as well.

Under Code of Civil Procedure § 2030.290(b), if a party to whom interrogatories are directed fails to serve a response, the propounding party may move the court for an order compelling responses.

In California, unsworn responses to discovery are tantamount to no responses at all. See Appleton v. Superior Court 206 Cal.App.3d 632, 636 (1988) ; Zorro Investment Company v. Great Pacific Securities Corporation 69 Cal.App.3d 907, 914 (1977). So if the responses received are not verified then a motion to compel responses would be the proper motion.

Note that Section 2030.290 contains NO time limit for a motion to compel where no responses have been served. This only applies if NO responses are received, or if unverified responses are received.

All that need be shown in the moving papers is that a set of interrogatories was properly served on the opposing party, that the time to respond has expired, and that no response of any kind has been served. Leach v. Superior Court 111 Cal.App.3d 902, 905-906 (1980).

The moving party is also not required to show a “reasonable and good faith attempt” to resolve the matter informally with opposing counsel before filing the motion. Sinaiko Healthcare Consulting, Inc. v. Pacific Healthcare Consultants 148 Cal.App.4th 390, 404 (2007).

Further, the party to whom the interrogatories are directed waives any objection to the interrogatories, including objections based on privilege or the work product doctrine, unless the failure to serve a response was due to “mistake, inadvertence, or excusable neglect.” Code of Civil Procedure § 2030.290 (a).

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).

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).

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.

Sample motion to compel responses to interrogatories in California for sale.



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

California discovery litigation document package

The author of this blog post, 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.

For licensed attorneys and law firms that need 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.

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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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