Discovery is the stage in litigation where parties can request information from each other or third-parties to prove or disprove the claims or defenses the parties have made. Litigation Discovery ensures that the parties and their counsel can learn the facts before trial and helps to narrow issues that may not be in dispute to keep the trial moving efficiently. The types of discovery requests we may receive or that we may send to other parties are Requests for Production of Documents, Interrogatories (written questions about the lawsuit), and Requests for Admissions (written statements that the other party requests that you either admit or deny). Additionally, each may party may request to conduct depositions, which is an opportunity to ask the opposing party questions under oath before trial. Parties may also request an inspection of any building or property that is subject to the lawsuit. Discovery is one of the more time-consuming parts of litigation, and therefore, it is important to start thinking about discovery early in the litigation process and to gather documents and information as soon as the case is filed to make it as easy as possible to respond to discovery requests.
What types of things can be requested during Litigation Discovery?
The standards for discovery requests are very lenient, and the basic rule is that parties can ask for any information that is relevant or might lead to the discovery of relevant information. As such, the requests you receive may seem excessive or not directly related to the litigation, but for the most part, you are expected to respond to the request. The standard requirement is that you must answer the questions based on your knowledge. You do not have to conduct any research to find answers to the questions, and it is acceptable to respond that you do not recall if that is accurate. On the other hand, if the information requests are something that is within your control (e.g., dates of emails that are stored in your Gmail account), you will be required to obtain this information so as to respond to the discovery.
What are the rules related to Litigation Discovery?
The rules surrounding requests for Production—such as the number of requests that can be made, when they must be given to the other party, and how long the other party has to answer them—are all governed by the rules of procedure used in the court where the case was filed. In Kansas and Missouri cases, you will have thirty days to respond to most discovery requests that the opposing party sends to you.
It is expected that the parties make a reasonable attempt to respond to the discovery requests within that timeline. However, it is common for parties to get extensions on the deadlines for responding to discovery requests. If responses to requests for Production are not provided within the required time period, the court may require that you pay the attorney fees of the opposing party or dismiss your case. Therefore, requests for Production very should be treated seriously and that responses be provided quickly once they are received.