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Are circular responses to discovery requests an abuse of discovery?

San Diego, CA |

In response to my discovery request for documents, the defendants in my case have provided numerous circular responses. Typically, there is a pattern whereby I request documents supporting contentions they made in letters and emails. Defendants object that the requests are “vague and ambiguous as to time and scope and assumes facts” yet, without waiving the objection, respond that they “will produce documents potentially responsive to this request, if they exist. Discovery is continuing.” However, the documents they produced with their responses are simply the same letters and emails where they make the contentions, as if the contentions themselves support the same contentions. Bottom line, I’m getting a runaround and NO production of documents. Is this “strategy” an abuse of discovery which would persuade a judge if I had to file a motion to compel? The defendants engage in this pattern over and over, systematically, and have produced virtually nothing. If I’m going to do a meet and confer neither can I wait, held back by their dilatory claim that “discovery is continuing.”

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Attorney answers 2


The statute says that the judge SHALL impose monetary sanctions to the losing party at a motion to compel discovery responses, so be cautious. There are also time deadlines for filing a motion to compel, so do not miss that. If they are saying they will produce what they have and nothing comes, they will be stuck with that at trial. Good luck.

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Point well taken, the court “shall,” but in all fairness as to evaluating the pros and cons in any particular instance, CCP § 2031.060. (h) also states ... “unless it finds that the one subject to the sanction acted with substantial justification or that other circumstances make the imposition of the sanction unjust.”



I meant CCP § 2031.310 (h), although the wording is same in the related discovery statutes. I guess it depends on how important the particular requests are and how serious the abuses are, i.e., “substantial justification.”



If what they fail to produce something important to THEM, they will be stuck with it at trial. If they fail to produce something important to me I may be stuck with it at trial.


Please see my other reply to the question about a motion to compel and the need to have a lawyer if you ever hope to seek sanctions in any motion to compel..

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