Do parties to an ongoing litigation have to explain why they are objecting to interrogatories and/or requests for production?

Boilerplate Titles Aren’t Acceptable – Neither Are Boilerplate Objections

Author: Matthew T.
Case Citation: Wesley Corp. v. Zoom TV Products, LLC, 2:17-cv-10021 (E.D. Mich. Jan 11, 2018)
Employee/Personnel/Employer Implicated: Defense Counsel
eLesson Learned: Objecting to an interrogatory or a request for production without both explaining how it is deficient and specifying how the objecting party would be harmed if forced to answer/produce is not permitted and can lead to sanctions.
Tweet This: Boilerplate objections not enough – you must explain why.

Objection – vague, overly broad, unduly burdensome, harassing, and/or seeking information that is irrelevant and/or not reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence.” This is the easiest way to respond to an interrogatory or request to produce. It is also the easiest way to be forced to pay your opposing party’s attorney’s fees.

Many see this language when receiving answers to interrogatories and requests for production from their opposing party. However, many courts have ruled and continue to rule that this is an insufficient and incomplete objection. In the Wesley case, the defendant responded to many interrogatories and requests for production with almost the exact language stated above. The court criticized and condemned this type of response both by the attorney in question and for attorneys everywhere. The court clearly and unequivocally ruled that boilerplate objections have no place in the discovery process.

This directly applies to all eDiscovery-related interrogatories and requests for production of electronically-stored information (ESI). When objecting to a request either for an answer or for production, an attorney must state both (a) how the discovery request is deficient, and (b) how the objecting party would be harmed if it were forced to respond to the request. That means that when someone asks you to pay for someone to scour extensive amounts of ESI to produce a document, you cannot just say that it is unduly burdensome. Rather, you must say why it is unduly burdensome. You must tell your adversary and the court why you believe that the request is unduly burdensome. Likewise, explanations must be given describing why a request is vague, harassing, seeking irrelevant information, and/or is not reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence. This is especially important in cases that deal with extensive eDiscovery, as many judges may not understand the intricacies, burdens, and costs that accompany eDiscovery requests.

Failure to explain an objection beyond a few words can lead to sanctions by a court. In the Wesley case, the Eastern District of Michigan made clear that wasting the court and your adversary’s time by unsatisfactorily objecting to a discovery request will lead to sanctions. This court awarded attorney’s fees to the plaintiff due to the defendant’s insufficient objections. If an attorney fails to explain, even if they have a valid objection, it is now clear that they will be sanctioned. Thus, it is imperative that an attorney fully explains why they are objecting to a discovery request, especially in the eDiscovery context.

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