Requests for admission

AuthorWilliam M. Audet/Kimberly A. Fanady
Propound Requests for Admission
A. A request for admission under FRCP 36(a)(1) is a
statement in the form, “Admit that...,” which any
party can use to ask any other party to admit the
truth of any:
1. Fact: “Admit that you owned the automobile
on the day of the accident.” S.E.C. v.
Goldstone, 300 F.R.D. 505 (D.N.M. 2014)
(request to admit that corporate officer had
information that was not provided to corporate
auditors sought factual information within
officer’s personal knowledge).
2. Opinion: “Admit that you believed defendant
owned the automobile in question.”
3. Application of law to fact: “Admit that
California law required you to stop before
making your right turn.” In re Rail Freight Fuel
Surcharge Antitrust Litigation, 81 Fed. Rules
Serv. 3d 105 (D.D.C. 2011) (requests asking
party t o admit that if a certain fact or factual
situation did or did not exist, a certain outcome
or legal conclusion would follow, are proper).
4. Genuineness of documents: “Admit that the
document attached as Exhibit A is a true and
correct copy of your 1995 financial statement.”
5. Admissibility of documents: “Admit that the
document attached as Exhibit A was prepared
by defendant corporation in the ordinary
course of its business.”
B. Requests for admission are powerful discovery
tools. Use them to:
1. Narrow the focus of your case. ARP v.
Amezaga (In re Amezaga), 195 B.R. 221, 229
(Bankr. D.P.R. 1996).
2. Eliminate issues from trial. See Chicago Dist.
Council of Carpenters Pension Fund v. P.M.Q.T.,
Inc., 169 F.R.D. 336, 341 (N.D. Ill. 1996); Howell
v. Maytag, 168 F.R.D. 502, 504 (M.D. Pa. 1996);
ARP v. Amezaga (In re Amezaga), 195 B.R. 221,
229 (Bankr. D.P.R. 1996).
3. Form the basis for a motion for summary
judgment or summary adjudication. See Huon
Le v. Krepps, 476 Bankr. 646 (S.D. Ga. 2012)
(debtor admitted that he acted with intent
to hinder, delay, or defraud his creditors in
quitclaiming property; summary judgment
avoiding fraudulent transfer granted ); Bronson
v. Adams, 59 Fed Rules Serv. 3d 196 (Bankr.
N.D. Iowa 2004) (summary judgment granted
where bankruptcy trustee’s admission resolved
case’s only factual issue).
4. Set up possible sanctions for false denials. See
Section I.F. below.
5. Authenticate evidence and establish its
C. Admissions a party gives to requests for admission
conclusively establish those matters for trial.
FRCP 36(b); Banos v. City of Chicago, 398 F.3d
889 (7th Cir. 2005) (admissions are treated like
sworn testimony and once made, should not be
D. An admission is allowed for the pending action
only. See FRCP 36(b). Requests for admission
may relate to any matter that is relevant to the
action’s subject matter and is not privileged. See
Task 52 Propound Requests for Admission
Task 53 Respond to Requests for Admission
Task 54 Determine Whether Responses Are Sufficient
Task 55 Withdraw or Amend Admissions
Task 56 Cure Deemed Admissions After Default
Form 18 Requests for Admission
Form 19 Responses to Requests for Admission
Form 20 Memorandum in Support of Motion
FRCP 26(b)(1), 36(a)(1). Requests for admission
may relate to claims or defenses of the requesting
party or of any other party, such as the:
1. Existence, description, nature, custody,
condition, location or admissibility of
documents or other tangible things. FRCP
2. Identity and location of persons with
knowledge of any discoverable matter. FRCP
E. A request for admission may not ask a party
to admit to interpretations or summaries of
documents. See Bausch & Lomb, Inc. v. Alcon
Lab., Inc., 173 F.R.D. 367, 377 (W.D.N.Y. 1995).
Similarly, a request for admission may not ask a
party to admit the accuracy of quoted text from a
particular document. Henry v. Champlain Enters.,
212 F.R.D. 73 (N.D.N.Y. 2003).
F. Requests are deemed admitted if the responding
party does not answer on time. See FRCP 36(a)
(3); Carney v. Internal Revenue Service, 258 F.3d
415 (5th Cir. 2001) (summary judgment based on
deemed admissions was properly granted when
party failed to respond timely to requests, failed to
support claim that parties had stipulated to extend
time to respond, and failed to move to withdraw
or amend admissions); Woodrome v. Scott, 69
Bankr 540 (E.D. Tex. 2013) (summary judgment
granted based on deemed admissions after failure
to respond timely to requests); Huon Le v. Krepps,
476 Bankr. 646 (S.D. Ga. 2012) (answers to
interrogatories did not relieve party of duty to
answer requests for admissions, facts conclusively
established). However, the admissions are binding
only on the party who fails to timely respond,
not on coparties. See Becerra v. Asher, 105 F.3d
1042, 1048 (5th Cir.), reh’g en banc denied, 111
F.3d 894 (5th Cir. 1997); National Independent
Truckers Ins. Co. v. Gadway, 860 F. Supp.2d 946
(D. Neb. 2012) (deemed factual admissions by
insurer’s employee could not be dispositive of
insurer’s claim for rescission of policy). Moreover,
the admissions are still subject to admissibility
objections at trial. See Palmetto State Medical Ctr.
v. Operation Lifeline, 117 F.3d 142, 146 (4th Cir.
1997) (district court erred in allowing admissions
into evidence when not probative of claim); Walsh v.
McCain Foods, 81 F.3d 722, 726-27 (7th Cir. 1996)
(affirming exclusion of admissions as hearsay).
G. If a responding party denies a request to admit and
the requesting party establishes that fact at trial,
the responding party may have to pay the costs
and attorney’s fees the requesting party incurred
to prove that fact. FRCP 37(c)(2); Marchand
v. Mercy Medical Ctr., 22 F.3d 933, 937 (9th
Cir. 1994); Securities & Exchange Commission
v. Happ, 295 F. Supp. 2d 189 (D. Mass. 2003)
(monetary sanctions imposed for plaintiff’s
unwarranted refusal to stipulate to authenticity of
telephone billing records and refusal to admit that
no call was made at time in question). However,
an adverse verdict does not automatically justify
an award of fees if the party’s denial of a request
has reasonable grounds. See U.S. v. Pecore, 664
F.3d 1125 (7th Cir. 2011) (expense award denied
where there was reasonable confusion surrounding
factual matters underlying requests such that
party’s position on requests was reasonably
justified); McMahan v. Adept Process Services,
Inc., 81 Fed. Rules Serv. 3d 184 (E.D. Va. 2011)
(expense award denied where party’s denial of
requests either arose from its theory of case or
related to matters of no substantial importance to
issues adjudicated).
H. The FRCP does not limit the number of requests
for admission you may serve. See Kershner v.
Beloit Corp., 106 F.R.D. 498 (D. Me. 1985).
However, local rules, standing orders or pretrial
orders may limit them. See Misco, Inc. v. United
States Steel Corp., 784 F.2d 198 (6th Cir. 1986).
Also keep in mind the restrictions of FRCP 26(c)
(1) which may limit requests to protect against
annoyance, oppression and undue burden or
expense. See Estate of Manship v. United States,
232 F.R.D. 552 (M.D. La. 2005) (substantial
number of requests permitted in large, complex
tax case where admissions would authenticate
documents, resolve or narrow issues, and would
not be unduly burdensome to answer).
I. A request for admissions may not seek answers to
pure questions of law. See National Independent
Truckers Ins. Co. v. Gadway, 860 F. Supp.2d
946 (D. Neb. 2012) (party who failed to answer
requests could not be deemed to have admitted
legal conclusions); Disability Rights Council of
Greater Washington v. Washington Metropolitan
Area Transit Authority, 234 F.R.D. 1 (D.D.C.
2006) (admissions asking plaintiff to state
understanding of federal statutes and regulations
inappropriate); United States v. Estate of
Dickerson, 189 F. Supp. 2d 622 (W.D. Tex. 2001)
(admission by executor of taxpayer’s estate that
he was personally liable for value of property

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