The Fallacy of General Objections
by: Richard M. Coleman, Esq.
©The Daily Journal Corporation
A motion was filed to compel further responses to interrogatories directed to the “X Corporation.” Counsel for X Corp. had prefaced its response to the interrogatories with text titled “General Response and Objections,” which stated in part that “X Corp. objects to each request to the extent that it calls for information protected by the attorney-client privilege, the attorney work product doctrine, or that are protected by any other applicable privilege under California law.”
The objection is improper.
The Code of Civil Procedure does not allow for “General Objections” to interrogatories. Section 2030.210 provides in pertinent part that “(a) The party to whom interrogatories have been propounded shall respond in writing under oath separately to each interrogatory by any of the following: … (3) An objection to the particular interrogatory.”
Further, Section 2030.240 provides in pertinent part that “(a) If only a part of an interrogatory is objectionable, the remainder of the interrogatory shall be answered. (b) If an objection is made to an interrogatory or to a part of an interrogatory, the specific ground for the objection shall be set forth clearly in the response. If an objection is based on a claim of privilege, the particular privilege invoked shall be clearly stated. If an objection is based on a claim that the information sought is protected work product, … that claim shall be expressly asserted.”
X Corp. did not make the objection[s] as a separate response to each interrogatory and its language. Moreover, X Corp.'s objection “to each request, to the extent that it calls for information protected by the attorney-client privilege, the attorney work product doctrine, or that are protected by any other applicable privilege,” does not comply with the clear statement requirements of 2030.240 (b).
Not only does the response not state clearly what the particular privilege is, but also the phrase “to the extent that it calls for” encompasses the possibility that no privilege is involved. The language is meaningless. Yet this and similar phrases are immortalized, locked into forms routinely plugged in by law firms.
Richard M. Coleman, a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers and former president of the Los Angeles County Bar Association, is a mediator with Alternative Resolution Centers [ARC] who also serves as discovery referee. He is on the faculty of Pepperdine’s Straus Institute for Dispute Resolution.
copyright © By Richard M. Coleman, Esq.