AuthorWilliam M. Audet/Kimberly A. Fanady
ProPounD interroGatories task 30
Task 30 Propound Interrogatories
Task 31 Respond to Interrogatories
Task 32 Propound Contention Interrogatories
Task 33 Respond to Contention Interrogatories
Task 34 Determine Whether to Compel Interrogatory
Form 8 Interrogatories
Form 9 Responses and Objections to Interrogatories
Propound Interrogatories
A. Interrogatories are written questions a party must
answer in writing and under oath. FRCP 33(b).
B. Interrogatories are an effective discovery tool
because they:
1. Are relatively inexpensive and simple to draft.
Some courts issue approved form interrogato-
ries for requesting basic information.
2. Commit the party to a written statement.
3. Can be used to establish facts at trial.
4. Can be used to impeach the answering party
at trial.
C. Under FRCP 33(a)(1), you may serve only 25
interrogatories, including subparts, on any party
without leave of court or written stipulation by all
parties. See Swackhammer v. Sprint Corp. PCS,
225 F.R.D. 658 (D. Kan. 2004) (subparts of inter-
rogatory related to common theme do not count
as separate interrogatories); Duncan v. Paragon
Publishing, Inc., 204 F.R.D. 127 (S.D. Ind. 2001);
Williams v. Board of County Commissioners, 192
F.R.D. 698 (D. Kan. 2000) (seven interrogatories
containing 117 subparts exceeded 25 interrogatory
limit; party not required to answer interrogatories
as propounded). The 25 interrogatory limit is per
party. W Holding Co., Inc. v. Chartis Insurance
Co. of Puerto Rico, 293 F.R.D. 68 (D. P..R. 2013)
(in action with numerous defendants, plaintiff not
entitled to order consolidating defendants’ discov-
ery requests absent showing that defendants had
grossly abused rule allowing 25 interrogatories
per party); St. Paul Fire & Marine Insurance Co.
v. Birch, Stewart, Kolasch & Birch, LLP, 217
F.R.D. 288 (D. Mass. 2003) (each of three defen-
dants could propound 25 interrogatories to plain-
tiff for a total of 75 interrogatories). However,
check your local rules. Under FRCP 26(b)(2),
your court may opt out of the 25 interrogatory
limitation. A court may not, however, impose by
local rule stricter limits than the FRCP allows. St.
Paul Fire & Marine Insurance Co., supra, (limit
is per party; local rule restricting interrogatories
to 25 per side unenforceable). For a discussion of
what constitutes a “subpart,” see Kendall v. GES
Exposition Servs., Inc., 174 F.R.D. 684, 685-86
(D. Nev. 1997).
D. Unlike allegations or admissions in a pleading,
responses to interrogatories do not bind a party
for all purposes. See Donovan v. Crisostomo, 689
F.2d 869, 875 (9th Cir. 1982); Marcoin, Inc. v.
Edwin K. Williams & Co., 605 F.2d 1325, 1328
(4th Cir. 1979); R2 Med. Sys. v. Katecho, Inc., 931
F. Supp. 1397, 1413 (N.D. Ill. 1996).
E. Interrogatories may not seek answers to pure
questions of law. See Abbott v. United States, 177
F.R.D. 92 (N.D.N.Y. 1997).
A. You may serve interrogatories only after the par-
ties’ FRCP 26(f) initial meeting (Task 20), unless
a court order, local rule or the parties’ written stip-
ulation provides otherwise. FRCP 33(a)(i), 26(d).
B. As a practical matter, serve initial interrogatories
as soon as possible. Use interrogatories before
other discovery methods because:
1. Interrogatories are useful for obtaining basic
information that may form a basis for deposi-
tions and document requests.
2. The answering party cannot simply say “I
don’t know,” as in a deposition, but must make
task 30 interroGatories
a good faith effort to gather available informa-
tion and formulate an answer. FRCP 33.
C. In some circumstances, wait to send interrogato-
ries or send another set of interrogatories toward
the end of discovery.
1. You may have new questions, or wish to delay
certain discovery to avoid educating your
opponent about your strategy or evidence.
2. Although a responding party is obligated to
update interrogatory answers under FRCP
26(e), consider sending update interrogatories
just before the discovery cutoff to ensure the
validity of previous discovery responses.
D. Ideally, you should send final interrogatories 60
days before the discovery cutoff to ensure suffi-
cient time to move to compel, if necessary. Keep
in mind that you could wait 30 additional days for
responses if you move to compel.
E. Do not send interrogatories less than 33 days
before the discovery cutoff because:
1. The responding party has 30 days to respond.
FRCP 33(b)(2).
2. FRCP 6(d) gives the responding party three
additional days for service by mail.
3. The opposing party has no obligation to
respond to untimely interrogatories. Thomas
v. Pacificorp, 324 F.3d 1176 (10th Cir. 2003)
(court entered summary judgment for defen-
dant, rejecting plaintiff’s claim that discovery
was incomplete, where plaintiff served inter-
rogatories after discovery cutoff).
F. If you fail to send your final interrogatories at least
33 days before the discovery cutoff, you and oppos-
ing counsel must agree or you must make a motion
to shorten the deadline for responding. See Task 94.
G. The parties may stipulate in writing to shorten or
extend the time to respond to interrogatories, pro-
vided the modification does not interfere with any
time set for completion of discovery, a hearing or
trial. FRCP 29. See Tasks 92, 94.
H. Consult local rules, standing orders and pretrial
orders for any other applicable time limitations.
A. Review FRCP 33, local rules and court orders for
any limitations on the number, type or timing of
B. Determine what information you need to prove
your case.
1. Review your annotated proof of fact (Task 4)
and identify the facts you must prove to estab-
lish your case.
2. Review all disclosures, responses to previous
discovery requests and other information you
already have.
C. Identify information the responding party may
have, such as:
1. Information supporting allegations in the
2. Information relating to property ownership,
medical conditions or employee performance.
3. Information about third parties, such as sub-
contractors or eyewitnesses.
4. Identity of a corporate party’s employees,
officers, directors and agents and their job
5. Information or statements taken from witnesses
by the responding party, its agents or attorneys.
6. The existence, location and description of
relevant documents. Remember to ask about
computer-stored material. See Task 6A.
7. Insurance policies which may cover the
alleged liability.
8. Prior similar incidents.
9. Damages calculations.
10. Data such as market share, percentage of
minority employees, net worth, office location
and purchase dates.
D. When drafting interrogatories, keep in mind:
1. The responding party’s attorney, rather than the
party, usually drafts the responses. Thus, you are
unlikely to obtain useful responses to “tough”
questions that address ultimate liability issues.
a. In this respect, interrogatories differ from
depositions where the party responds directly.
b. However, interrogatories are effective to
obtain details a party might not know at a
deposition, such as damages calculations,
dates, or complete medical histories.
2. The scope of an interrogatory is broad. The
responding party must provide the requested
information if:
a. The requested information is “available”
to the responding party. FRCP 33(a). This
includes information in the possession
of the party’s agents, attorneys, doctors,
accountants, former and current employees

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