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The topic of the newsletter this week is the use of special interrogatories in California civil litigation.

Special interrogatories are a vital tool for obtaining the facts, witnesses and documents on which a contention is based so they can be reviewed. The rules governing special interrogatories are found in Code of Civil Procedure 2030.010, et seq. Code of Civil Procedure 2030.010 states that, (a) Any party may obtain discovery within the scope delimited by Chapters 2 (commencing with Section 2017.010) and 3 (commencing with Section 2017.710), and subject to the restrictions set forth in Chapter 5 (commencing with Section 2019.010), by propounding to any other party to the action written interrogatories to be answered under oath. (b) An interrogatory may relate to whether another party is making a certain contention, or to the facts, witnesses, and writings on which a contention is based. An interrogatory is not objectionable because an answer to it involves an opinion or contention that relates to fact or the application of law to fact, or would be based on information obtained or legal theories developed in anticipation of litigation or in preparation for trial. A defendant may propound special interrogatories at any time, however a plaintiff may not do so until at least ten (10) days have passed since service of the summons on the defendant, or the general appearance by the defendant, whichever occurs first. See Code of Civil Procedure 2030.020. There is a numerical limit of thirty five (35) on the number of special interrogatories. However if a supporting declaration stating that any additional interrogatories are warranted due to the complexity of the case and other certain factors is attached, then any party may propound more additional special interrogatories. See Code of Civil Procedure 2030.030 and 2030.050. These rules only apply in an unlimited civil case, in which the amount being demanded in the lawsuit is more than $25,000. There are certain format restrictions on special interrogatories. No special interrogatory may contain subparts, or a compound, conjunctive or disjunctive question. See Code of Civil Procedure 2030.060. This means that a special interrogatory cannot contain part a, b, c, etc., nor can it contain a question with more than one part, and it cannot contain the word and which is conjunctive, it also cannot contain the word or which is disjunctive. Although many special interrogatories do violate these format rules any party using such a format runs the risk of the opposing party objecting on those grounds. While depositions are also a vital tool they have limitations, particularly the fact that deposition questions may not ask party deponent to state all facts, list all witnesses and identify all documents that support or pertain to particular contention in that party's pleadings, although that information is discoverable when sought by written interrogatory. Rifkind v. Superior Court (1994) 22 Cal.App.4th 1255, 1257. The California courts have ruled that the scope of discovery in California civil litigation is very broad. Any doubts are applied liberally in favor of discovery.

For discovery purposes, information is relevant if it might reasonably assist a party in evaluating case, preparing for trial, or facilitating settlement. Gonzalez v. Superior Court (City of San Fernando (1995) 33 Cal.App.4th 1539, 1546. Admissibility is not the test and information, unless privileged, is discoverable if it might reasonably lead to admissible evidence. Davies v. Superior Court (1984) 36 Cal.3d 291, 301 These rules are applied liberally in favor of discovery. Colonial Life & Accident Ins. Co. v. Superior Court (1982) 31 Cal.3d 785, 790, and (contrary to popular belief), fishing expeditions are permissible in some cases. Greyhound Corp. v. Superior Court (1961) 56 Cal.2d 355, 385, (although fishing may be improper or abused in some cases, that "is not of itself an indictment of the fishing expedition per se.) If you enjoy this newsletter, tell others about it. They can subscribe by visiting the following link: http://www.legaldocspro.net/newsletter.htm It would be greatly appreciated if you would visit the website at http://www.legaldocspro.net and give it a like with Google + if possible. Have a great week and thanks for being a subscriber. Yours Truly, Stan Burman The author of this newsletter, Stan Burman, is a freelance paralegal who has worked in California and Federal litigation since 1995, and recently relocated to Asia. Copyright 2013 Stan Burman. All rights reserved. DISCLAIMER: Please note that the author of this newsletter, Stan Burman is NOT an attorney and as such is unable to provide any specific legal advice. The author is NOT engaged in providing any legal, financial, or other professional services, and any information contained in this newsletter is NOT intended to constitute legal advice. These materials and information contained in this newsletter have been prepared by Stan Burman for informational purposes only and are not legal advice. Transmission of the information contained in this newsletter is not intended to create, and receipt does not constitute, any business relationship between the sender and receiver. Subscribers and any other readers should not act upon this information without seeking professional counsel.