Three potential ground for objections to interrogatories are: privilege, relevance, and overbroad. I think that the three stated objections are very commonly used in pending litigation for a variety of reasons. The privilege objection is common because of the sheer volume of communication with an attorney, furthermore, the evidentiary value of a privileged communication is high so something potentially privileged is likely to be asked for. Relevance is a common objection because when attempting to litigate a case, attorneys might take a ‘shot-gun’ approach to discovery in order to build their case and ask for more information than is strictly necessary to prove a narrow claim. Overbroad is a common objection for many of the same reasons as relevance, in attempting to secure evidence, an attorney is likely to state their discovery requests broadly in order to prevent the opposing attorney from construing the request as narrowly as possible and exclude material which was intended to be covered by the request.
With regards to the fact pattern in the first scenario, the relevant guidance is to be found in rule 32 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. If the party is unavailable for trial, the deposition may be used under rule 32(a)(4) conditions: the witness is dead, more than 100 miles from the place of the hearing, can’t attend due to infirmity or imprisonment, the parties attendance couldn’t be procured by subpoena, or on motion in the interests of justice. The attorney may use the deposition of a witness at trial if the following conditions are met: the party was present at the deposition and had notice of it, it conforms to the Federal Rules of Evidence, and it is allowable under rule 32(a)(2)-(8). Under rule 45(a)(2)(B) a subpoena may be issued to compel a witness to attend a deposition. Rule 30(b)(3)(A) allows for a deposition to be recorded so long as the notice is given regarding the method of recording. Ordinarily, a witness must answer all questions at a deposition, except for privileged information and information excluded by statute: the form or substance of a question would not be sufficient grounds to not answer questions.
In the second fact pattern, a number of objections are raised to the discovery requests of the defendant. Without further information regarding the nature of the requests, it is impossible to rule on the objections. If information is privileged it should not be turned over. The second objection should not stand, because discovery should seek to resolve factual matters. The third objection should stand because discovery should lead to admissible evidence, and the 4th objection should stand because available information should not be requested.
In the third fact pattern presented, Paul was injured while operating a drill press. Brown was retained by Manco, the manufacturer of the drill press, to produce a report regarding the device that injured Paul. Paul should request the report in his discovery requests. If Manco is unwilling to supply the report to Paul, then Paul’s attorney should petition the court to compel the production of the report. The proper means of compelling production of evidence is spelled out in the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure rule 37. The rule demands that appropriate notice be given by the moving party and that the moving party has attempted to obtain the evidence in good-faith without recourse to the courts.
“Federal Rules of Civil Procedure,” Cornell University Law School: Legal Information
Peggy Karley, Joanne Banker Hames and Paul A. Sukys, ”Discovery”
in Civil Litigation (Clifton Park: Delmar, 2012)