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When serving interrogatories (admissions, etc.) on the Defendants, do I send the request to their attorney, or to them directly?

Lakewood, CA |
Filed under: Discovery

I am trying to get some answers to questions of importance on the issues that will be tried. I am also opposing summary judgment. I wish I had thought of such questions to ask of the Defendants previously, but there is still about 3 months until trial (unless the trial is stayed because an interlocutory appeal is pending, and I think I'm going to have to ask for a stay). Anyway, who do I serve these interrogatory questions upon? And if they are not answered, how do I force the Defendants to answer these remarkably simply and straightforward questions well within the Defendants' personal knowledge? However, these Defendants I am asking, individuals, were dismissed, and only one corporation remains in the lawsuit as a Defendant! Can I still serve these non-parties with the interrogatories?

Attorney Answers 3


No, once parties are dismissed from a lawsuit, you cannot serve them with written discovery in the form of Requests for Admissions, Interrogatories, or Requests for Production of Documents.

You may be able to take their depositions (which is very expensive since you will need a court reporter) and can potentially request that they produce certain records by having subpoenas issued and served with your requests. You can also try to informally interview them or have somebody else do so, but they are under no obligation to agree to that.

Also, depending on who these people are, if they are employees or officers of the defendant corporation, there may be ways to craft interrogatories to the corporation so that the corporation must get the input of those persons in order to provide the responses.

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Attorney Darrow is correct.

Once a party is dismissed, you can no longer serve them with written discovery such as Requests for Admissions, Interrogatories, or Requests for Production of Documents. However, you can subpoena witnesses for deposition, and ask them to produce documents at the deposition.

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 posting does not create any attorney-client relationship with the author. For specific advice about your particular situation, please consult with your own attorney.

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If the Defendant is represented by counsel, the discovery request - interrogatories must be served on counsel for the defendant and any other parties/counsel who have appeared in the matter. If they are not answered within the time period allowed by law (30 days if personally served or 35 if served by mail) then you can make a motion to the court compelling them to answer the interrogatories. You can not serve interrogatories on non-parties. You can serve a deposition subpoena requiring them to sit for a deposition before a court reporter and answer questions under oath.

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Are you saying that simply because the already-dismissed Defendants in question did, at one time, appear in the case they are even now obligated to respond to my requests for interrogatories and admissions and production of documents I serve on them to them (via their attorney)?

Christa Renee Haggai

Christa Renee Haggai


If the defendant is already dismissed, then you cannot serve interrogatories on them. The only way you can have them answer questions is a deposition subpoena. For that you have to pay the deposition costs for the transcript, court reporter fees, which is expensive.

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