Civil Litigation Discovery Legal Topics

Discovery by the Numbers

When planning your discovery, you need to know all the key numbers, i.e., the numerical limitations on the various discovery methods. Here’s a handy overview so you will know how much is too much under California’s discovery statutes.

Interrogatories: You may propound

  • an unlimited number of Judicial Council form interrogatories (CCP §2030.030(a)(2)),
  • a total of 35 specially prepared interrogatories (unless you attach a declaration stating why a greater number of interrogatories is needed (CCP §2030.030(a)(1)), and
  • a supplemental interrogatory “to elicit any later-acquired information bearing on all answers previously made by any party” twice before the initial trial date is set, once after the date is set (CCP §2030.070(a)-(b)), subject to the time limits in CCP §§2024.010-2024.060, and for good cause (CCP §2030.070(c)).

Requests for Admission: You may make 

  • unlimited requests for admission of the genuineness of documents, unless they subject the responding party to unwarranted annoyance, embarrassment, oppression or burden and expense (CCP §2033.030), and
  • 35 requests for admission not relating to the genuineness of documents (CCP §2033.030(a)), unless you prepare and serve a declaration that shows you need additional requests because of the complexity or quantity of existing or potential issues in the case (CCP §§2033.040-2033.0500.

Depositions: You may take

  • Only one deposition (which may extend over more than 1 day) of a witness if you are the party that noticed the first deposition or another party that received notice of that deposition  (CCP §2025.610(a)), and
  • More than one deposition of a witness if on behalf of a party organization and (1) the deponent is a natural person who has been designated to testify on behalf of an organization, and you also depose him or her individually (CCP §2025.610(c)(1)); or (2) the court has issued a right to attach order (CCP §485.230) for the limited purpose of discovering the identity, location, and value of property in which the deponent has an interest (CCP §2025.610(c)(2)); or (3) the parties stipulate in writing to a subsequent deposition, and you obtain any nonparty deponent’s consent to being deposed again (CCP §2025.610(b)); or (4) by court order (CCP §2025.610(b)).

Demands for Production: 

  • You may make unlimited demands that documents, electronically stored information (ESI), and other physical evidence be produced (CCP §2031.010), unless those demands subject the responding party to unwarranted annoyance, embarrassment, oppression, or burden and expense (CCP §2031.060(b)).

Physical or mental examinations: 

  • The defendant is entitled to demand one physical examination of the plaintiff in a personal injury action (CCP §2032.220(a));
  • Any other examination, whether physical or mental, must proceed by court order (CCP §2032.310(a)) or agreement (CCP §2016.030).

Some cases are so complex that the usual limits won’t work. If you need to, for example, propound additional special interrogatories, you better be prepared to support that need in response to the almost inevitable motion for a protective order.

For everything you need to know about planning your discovery, turn to CEB’s hands on Action Guide Creating Your Discovery Plan. Also check out CEB’s Civil Discovery Practice for comprehensive coverage of all California discovery issues.

© The Regents of the University of California, 2011. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

5 replies on “Discovery by the Numbers”

There is another exception to the “one day deposition” rule: a case involving claims by or against an employee regarding the employment relationship (e.g. termination, wrongful discharge, discrimination etc)

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