- Get information early. Use interrogatories as an initial discovery method to gather basic information before using other methods, e.g., the identity and location of witnesses with knowledge of pertinent facts, the nature of the opposing party’s legal claims, and the existence and identity of relevant documents.
- Fill information gaps. Use interrogatories whenever you find information gaps on witnesses, documents, contentions, or specific facts, e.g., from your investigation or responses to other discovery methods.
- Identify sources of electronically stored information (ESI). When you need to get background information or to determine the existence, description, nature, custody, or condition of any ESI, consider serving interrogatories before making a production demand under CCP §§2031.010-2031.510.
- Compel a party to answer beyond personal knowledge. Seek information known not only to the responding party but also to the responding party’s attorney, other agents, and employees, because the opposing party can’t give vague answers or claim lack of knowledge without first searching for the requested information. Examples of such information are medical history, the existence and identity of other witnesses and witness statements, and financial information.
- Facilitate settlement. Attorneys frequently use interrogatories to facilitate settlement by requiring verified responses to matters of importance to issues of liability or to the case in general. For example, drafting verified interrogatory responses requires counsel and the party to state facts in support of allegations pleaded in the alternative in the complaint or in support of affirmative defenses alleged simply to avoid waiver, and may thus establish that sufficient facts don’t exist to support the pleadings.
- Use as evidence. As far as admissible under the rules of evidence, the propounding party or any party other than the responding party may, at the trial or any other hearing, use any answer or part of an answer to an interrogatory against the party giving the answer. CCP §2030.410. It’s not grounds for objection to the use of an answer to an interrogatory that the responding party is “available to testify, has testified, or will testify at the trial or other hearing.” CCP §2030.410.
And on top of all of these advantages, interrogatories are relatively inexpensive to use, even if you’re drafting your own.
For everything you need to know about using interrogatories, turn to CEB’s California Civil Discovery Practice, chap 7. Also check out CEB’s Creating Your Discovery Plan (Action Guide). For expert advice on crafting interrogatories to get responsive and useful information, check out CEB’s program Written Discovery Planning, available On Demand.
Other CEBblog™ posts you may find useful:
- 7 Rules for Drafting Interrogatories
- Timing Your Interrogatories
- 3 Problem Areas for Interrogatory Responses
© The Regents of the University of California, 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.