ARC Articles

Ruling On Common Objections To Form Interrogatories Forum Column

by: Richard M. Coleman, Esq.
©The Daily Journal Corporation

Discovery disputes often involve the use of form interrogatories. In this situation, one party objected to Form Interrogatory 15.1, as follows: "Form Interrogatory 15.1 violates CCP section 2030.060 (d) as not being 'complete in of itself' because it refers to [Movant's] denials and affirmative defenses in [Movant's] pleadings without setting them forth in the Interrogatory."

On its face, the objection appears to have merit. However, because the Judicial Council form provides this language and has deemed it sufficient, this objection will not be sustained.

Another objection was made to Form Interrogatory 50: "Objection was made to Form Interrogatory 50 because it calls for a legal conclusion as to the meaning of 'material.'"

Similar contentions could be made about other questions in the 50 series of the form interrogatories. Again, the Judicial Council's approval of the form interrogatories implicitly finds the interrogatories to be capable of response by litigants.

Here is another frequently seen objection: "Respondent objects to the term 'incident.' The form interrogatory definition of 'incident' does not fit the contract breaches alleged in the case."

This one does not come out the same way. It is valid because the form has anticipated and provided for it. The instructions on the form interrogatories specifically authorize the asking party to insert its "own definition of INCIDENT, ... where the action arises from a course of conduct or a series of events occurring over a period of time" (emphasis in original).

The movant had not done so. The recommended ruling was to deny the motion to compel on the ground that the interrogatory was unintelligible in the context of the case.

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.

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