(Please note: the names and locations of all parties have been changed to protect the confidentiality of the participants in this birth injury/personal injury case and its proceedings.)
University’s Assertion Of Boilerplate Objections Is Without Basis
In Greg Mannino v. Superior Court (1983) 142 Cal.App.3d 776, petitioner filed a personal injury action against real party in interest and propounded a six sets of special interrogatories. Real party filed a verified response after the date an answer was required and included numerous objections. Petitioner’s subsequent motion to compel further answers was denied.
On appeal, the Court vacated the order denying motion to compel, holding that real party did not file on time and provided no reasonable excuse for the delay. Id. at 778-779. The court reasoned that the objections contained in the responses were based on relevancy, remoteness, vagueness, ambiguity and the claim that the interrogatories are too burdensome, stating that it does not require more than 60 days to raise these familiar complaints. Although the delay was short in this case, and it was the sixth set of interrogatories propounded to real party in interest, the court emphasized that the discovery process is subject to frequent abuse and, like a cancerous growth, can destroy a meritorious cause or defense when the party with the greater resources chooses to employ it in an unethical manner. Id.
In the instant birth injury matter, the objections made by University to the first seven special interrogatories propounded by plaintiff are without merit.
First, plaintiffs’ and/or their counsel are not in possession of the names or identities of the witnesses requested through the interrogatories. In essence, the first seven special interrogatories propounded by plaintiff requested the names and identifications of witnesses, known to defendant, who were present during the birth of the minor plaintiff and who may have observed the events surrounding the birth. Contrary to defendant’s objection as stated in their Special Interrogatory Responses, these individuals were not identified in the medical records in the possession of plaintiffs and/or their counsel.
The medical records only identify Dr. Green and Dr. Brown as involved in the neonatal resuscitation and one labor/delivery nurse attending the birth. However, it has come out during depositions and through the course of discovery, through testimony of family and friends, that there was a resuscitation team as well as a great number of people in the room during the birth and the immediate post-birth period. Thus, the identification of those witnesses known to University was requested through special interrogatories.
More importantly, defendant University already agreed that they should and will provide further answers to plaintiffs special interrogatories. After counsel for plaintiffs initial meet and confer attempt, defense counsel agreed that further answers to plaintiffs special interrogatories would be provided no later than July 13, 2002. After receiving no additional responses by that date, counsel for plaintiffs made several additional meet and confer attempts. To date, however, no further responses have been provided by University. (See Part 6 of 6.)
For more information you are welcome to contact Sacramento personal injury lawyer, Moseley Collins.