California Personal Injury Litigation – The Rule of 35 In Unlimited Civil Cases and Limited Civil Cases
September 12, 2011 Leave a comment
Discovery is an important part of any personal injury case. There is some confusion about the Rule of 35. The Rule of 35 limits certain discovery in unlimited civil cases unless there is a declaration of necessity. This change in the Discovery Act thankfully changed before I started practicing law. Earlier in my career, when I was a Deputy City Attorney for the City of San Bernardino, I saw form files with interrogatories numbering in the hundreds in routine civil cases.
The “Rule of 35” is the limit on special interrogatories and requests for admission (except for in limited civil cases, discussed below:
For special interrogatories, the Rule of 35 is stated as:
(a) A party may propound to another party either or both of the following:
(1) Thirty-five specially prepared interrogatories that are relevant to the subject matter of the pending action.
(2) Any additional number of official form interrogatories . . .
(b) Except as provided in Section 2030.070, no party shall, as a matter of right, propound to any other party more than 35 specially prepared interrogatories. If the initial set of interrogatories does not exhaust this limit, the balance may be propounded in subsequent sets.
(c) Unless a declaration as described in Section 2030.050 has been made, a party need only respond to the first 35 specially prepared interrogatories served, if that party states an objection to the balance, under Section 2030.240, on the ground that the limit has been exceeded. California Code of Civil Procedure section 2030.030.
For requests for admission:
(a) No party shall request, as a matter of right, that any other party admit more than 35 matters that do not relate to genuineness of documents. If the initial set of admission requests does not exhaust this limit, the balance may be requested in subsequent sets.
(b) Unless a declaration as described in Section 2033.050 has been made, a party need only respond to the first 35 admission requests served that do not relate to the genuineness of documents, if that party states an objection to the balance under Section 2033.320 on the ground that the limit has been exceeded.
(c) The number of requests for admission of the genuineness of documents is not limited except as justice requires to protect the responding party from unwarranted annoyance, embarrassment, oppression, or undue burden and expense. California Code of Civil Procedure section 2033.030.
Discovery in Limited Civil Cases is, appropriately, limited. Limited Civil Cases are subject to the grab-bag Rule of 35.
As to each adverse party, a party may use the following forms of discovery:
(a) Any combination of 35 of the following:
(1) Interrogatories (with no subparts) . . . .
(2) Demands to produce documents or things . . . .
(3) Requests for admission (with no subparts) . . . . California Code of Civil Procedure section 94.
Note that California Code of Civil Procedure section 94(a)(1) says”Interrogatories” and not “Specially prepared interrogatories” like in California Code of Civil Procedure section 2030.030(a)(1). Therefore, even though there are limited civil form interrogatories (which are simplified and should be used in Limited Civil Cases ), care should be taken in choosing each form interrogatory. Each interrogatory counts towards the grab-bag rule of 35. Similarly, demands to produce are subject to the grab-bag Rule of 35 in limited civil cases.
Discovery should be used like jewelers’ tools to discover evidence necessary in a civil action. The Rule of 35 limits ultimately makes the practice of law better and reduces unnecessary expense for clients.
The information you obtain at this blog is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. No attorney-client relationship is established by reading or commenting on this blog. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation.