The Florida Rules of Civil Procedure set forth the provisions governing discovery in the State of Florida. This article will review the three common categories of discovery that parties propound upon another party in writing:
- requests for production
- requests for admissions
are a formal set of written questions propounded by one party upon another party. Interrogatories requests that the responding party answer the questions under oath.
Florida Rule of Civil Procedure 1.340 – Interrogatories to Parties
– provides that a party may serve on any other party written interrogatories. Interrogatories may be served on the plaintiff anytime after the action commences and upon any other party with or after the service of process.
The amount of interrogatories are not to exceed thirty, including all subparts, unless the court permits a larger number upon a motion and if the movant establishes good cause.
Each interrogatory must be answered fully in writing and separately. The answers must be verified (made under oath) unless the interrogatory request is objected to. If the responding party objects to the interrogatory
, the objection must be stated and signed by the attorney making the objection.
Unless the court allows a shorter or longer period of time, answers to interrogatories
are due thirty days after service, unless the defendant was served with interrogatories at the time of service of process (in which case the defendant has forty-five days to respond).
A party’s answers to interrogatories can be used to the extent permitted under the rules of evidence, unless otherwise provided in the rules of civil procedure.
A party must respond to the interrogatory by giving the information the party has any the source upon which the information is based. An answer to an interrogatory is not objectionable simply because the answer involves an opinion which relates to a fact or calls for a conclusion or asks for information not within the personal knowledge of the responding party.
Further, the Rules provides that when an answer to an interrogatory may be derived or ascertained from records, the responding party has the option of specifying the records from which the answer may be derived or ascertained and offering to give the requesting party a reasonable opportunity to examine, audit or inspect the records.
Requests for Production
A request for production
makes a formal request for a party to produce documents, electronically stored information, or other information.
Florida Rule of Civil Procedure 1.350
provides that any party may request another party:
- “to produce and permit the party making the request, or someone acting in the requesting party’s behalf, to inspect and copy any designated documents, including electronically stored information, writings, drawings, graphs, charts, photographs, audio, visual, and audiovisual recordings, and other data compilations from which information can be obtained, translated, if necessary, by the party to whom the request is directed through detection devices into reasonably usable form, that constitute or contain matters within the scope of rule 1.280(b) and that are in the possession, custody, or control of the party to whom the request is directed;
- to inspect and copy, test, or sample any tangible things that constitute or contain matters within the scope of rule 1.280(b) and that are in the possession, custody, or control of the party to whom the request is directed; or
- to permit entry upon designated land or other property in the possession or control of the party upon whom the request is served for the purpose of inspection and measuring, surveying, photographing, testing, or sampling the property or any designated object or operation on it within the scope of rule 1.280(b).”
Unless the court allows a shorter or longer period of time, a response to a request for production is due thirty days after service, unless the defendant was served with the request for production at the time of service of process (in which case the defendant has forty-five days to respond).
Unless the request for production
is objected to, each response shall state that inspection and related activities will be permitted as requested. If an objection is made to part of an item or category, the part that is objected to shall be identified.
When producing documents responsive to a request for production, the producing party shall either produce the items as they are kept in the usual course of business or shall identify them to correspond with the categories in the request.
Requests for Admissions
A request for admissions
is a set of statements which asks the other party either admit or deny a statement or allegation.
Florida Rule of Civil Procedure 1.370
provides that a party may serve upon any other party a written request for the admission of the truth of any matters set forth in the request that relate to statements or opinions of fact or of the application of law to fact, including the genuineness of any documents described in the request.
Unless the court allows a shorter or longer period of time, a response to a request for admission is due thirty days after service, unless the defendant was served with the request for admission at the time of service of process (in which case the defendant has forty-five days to respond).
Requests for admissions
shall not exceed thirty requests, including all subparts. However, the court may permit a larger number upon a motion and if the movant establishes good cause.
It is important to note that the matter is admitted unless the party to whom the request is directed serves a written answer or objection within thirty days after service (or whatever time is otherwise provided in the rules).
The answer shall specifically deny the matter or set forth in detail the reasons as to why the answering party cannot truthfully admit or deny the matter. The Rules provide that if good faith requires that a party qualify an answer or deny only a part of the matter of which an admission is requested, then the party shall specify so much of it as is true and qualify or deny the remainder.
Further, the Rules likewise provides that an answering party may not give lack of information or knowledge as a reason for failure to admit or deny unless that party states that that party has made reasonable inquiry and that the information known or readily obtainable by that party is insufficient to enable that party to admit or deny.
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