AuthorWilliam M. Audet/Kimberly A. Fanady
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 interrogatories for requesting basic
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 interrogatory 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’ discovery 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 defendants could
propound 25 interrogatories to plaintiff 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
parties’ FRCP 26(f) initial meeting (Task 20),
unless a court order, local rule or the parties’
written stipulation 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
depositions and document requests.
2. The answering party cannot simply say “I
don’t know,” as in a deposition, but must
make a good faith effort to gather available
information and formulate an answer. FRCP
C. In some circumstances, wait to send interrogatories
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
sufficient 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
defendant, rejecting plaintiff’s claim that
discovery was incomplete, where plaintiff
served interrogatories after discovery cutoff).
F. If you fail to send your final interrogatories at
least 33 days before the discovery cutoff, you and
opposing 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,
provided 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
establish 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
pleadings. See In re Domestic Drywall
Antitrust Litigation, 300 F.R.D. 228 (E.D.Pa.
2. Information relating to property ownership,
medical conditions or employee performance.
3. Information about third parties, such as
subcontractors 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

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