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What is the proper response if I can't find a document in response to discovery requests?

Laguna Hills, CA |

I filed a cross complaint against the plaintiff and they served me discovery requests for documents. I have moved like three times and can't find documents I previously had. Do I simply respond that I do not have the documents? Do I need to go to third parties myself and ask them to make me copies?

Attorney Answers 2


  1. Best answer

    In responding to a demand for production of documents pursuant to California Code of Civil Procedure section 2031.210 et seq., the written responses must state whether the responding party will comply with the demand, or an inability to comply, or assert a valid legal objection.

    Here are a few examples of proper responses:

    1) RESPONDING PARTY will produce all responsive documents currently within RESPONDING PARTY's possession, custody, or control.

    2) RESPONDING PARTY has conducted a diligent search and reasonable inquiry and is currently unable to comply with this demand because no such documents exist or ever existed.

    3) RESPONDING PARTY has conducted a diligent search and reasonable inquiry and is currently unable to comply with this demand because such documents have never been in the possession, custody, or control of RESPONDING PARTY.

    Therefore, in your situation, I am not sure what documents you no longer have. However, you might respond as follows:

    RESPONDING PARTY has conducted a diligent search and reasonable inquiry and is currently unable to comply with this demand because such documents are no longer in the possession, custody, or control of RESPONDING PARTY. Such documents might be in the possession, custody and control of ______(name of third party).

    Frank W. Chen has been licensed to practice law in California since 1988. The information presented here is general in nature and is not intended, nor should be construed, as legal advice for a particular case. This Avvo.com posting does not create any attorney-client relationship with the author. For specific advice about your particular situation, please consult with your own attorney.


  2. I agree 100% with Mr. Chen. You need to make a diligent effort to find the documents that are requested. If these are documents which tend to help your case, you might want to make the extra effort to locate the documents, even if you have to go to third parties to obtain them. You should seriously consider retaining an attorney to asist you with your case. I see way too may self-represented parties in court who are way over their heads.

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