1. You have a duty to respond. A party who has been served with interrogatories under CCP §§2030.010–2030.410 has a duty to respond by (CCP §§2030.210–2030.410):
- Exercising the option to produce writings; or
In general, responding with a simple assertion of an “inability to respond” won’t fly. Sinaiko Healthcare Consulting, Inc. v Pacific Healthcare Consultants (2007) 148 CA4th 390, 409.
2. You’re only required to supplement your responses if requested. A supplemental response is a response that contains newly-discovered information and is typically served in response to a supplemental interrogatory. There’s no duty under California law to supplement responses unless specifically requested by the propounding party. Biles v Exxon Mobil Corp. (2004) 124 CA4th 1315. Unprompted responses provided to supplement previous responses because of new information are amended responses. CCP §2030.310.
3. If you don’t respond, you could waive rights and get sanctioned. Failure to respond to interrogatories will result in a waiver of certain rights and may be grounds for the imposition of sanctions. CCP §§2030.290–2030.300. You must satisfy the duty to respond unless you’re excused by protective order, on a showing of good cause why no response is necessary. CCP §2030.090.
4. Even if you’re challenging jurisdiction, you have to answer interrogatories on that issue. A defendant who is challenging jurisdiction by way of a motion to quash service of summons must answer interrogatories directed at jurisdictional issues. 1880 Corp. v Superior Court (1962) 57 C2d 840.
5. All answers must be complete and straightforward. Each answer must be as “complete and straightforward as the information reasonably available to the responding party permits.” CCP §2030.220(a). If you can’t answer an interrogatory completely, you have to answer “to the extent possible.” CCP §2030.220(b). The court will consider whether a party has made a good faith effort to answer; inadequate responses to legitimate interrogatories generally result in sanctions.
6. You can object if it’s too burdensome. Interrogatories are probably the most burdensome of discovery procedures, even when proper questions are asked. For example, interrogatories may require that a responding party reasonably investigate the electronic information available to it, requiring expensive professional assistance. You can simply object on grounds of burden, or you can seek a protective order to limit the requests or to require that the propounding party use another discovery method, such as a request to produce, to allow discovery but to shift the cost burden to the propounding party.
For everything you need to know about drafting and responding to special interrogatories, including sample form for responses and a sample motion for a protective order, turn to CEB’s California Civil Discovery Practice, chapter 7.
Other CEBblog™ posts you may find useful:
- 7 Rules for Drafting Interrogatories
- Timing Your Interrogatories
- Are Requests for Admissions a Magic Bullet or Overblown?
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