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This chapter discusses the formal tools of civil discovery, the methods for protecting against unwarranted discovery and motions to compel permitted discovery. (Amendments to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure that went into effect on December 1, 2015, significantly changed Rule 26(b), in particular the definition of "relevance." This chapter will be updated accordingly, but in the meantime, advocates are advised to review these changes.) Rule 26(b)(1) specifies the following, “unless otherwise limited by court order”: . For good cause, the court may order discovery of any matter relevant to the subject matter involved in the action.

Interrogatories are generally useful for two purposes.

First, they can be used to seek foundational, factual information to establish a basis for subsequent discovery by a request for production or by deposition.

Mutual knowledge of all the relevant facts gathered by both parties is essential to proper litigation.

To that end, either party may compel the other to disgorge whatever facts he has in his possession.

Thus, interrogatories typically seek the addresses and names of persons having knowledge of relevant matters, the identity of people having certain authority or occupying certain offices, the existence, location, accuracy and authenticity of documents and reports, statistical data or summaries, and other objective facts underlying the claims or defenses of the action.

Second, contention interrogatories can be used to ask parties to state their contentions and their factual bases for them.

Be prepared to demonstrate that your discovery request is a timely, reasonably tailored, and legitimate inquiry into matters which critically relate to the issues raised by the action. Parties must identify individuals likely to have discoverable information and documents (including electronically stored information, discussed more fully below) “that the disclosing party may use to support its claims or defenses.” If applicable, the disclosure must also include a computation of damages and information regarding insurance agreements.21 The names of disclosed individuals must include the subjects of the information they possess.

The documents themselves, or their description and location, must be provided, as long as the disclosing party has them in its possession, custody, or control.

Effective interrogatories are short, to the point, and unambiguous.

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