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Rule 197. Interrogatories to Parties (Nov1998)


197.1 Interrogatories. A party may serve on another party ­ no later than 30 days before the end of the discovery period - written interrogatories to inquire about any matter within the scope of discovery except matters covered by Rule 195. An interrogatory may inquire whether a party makes a specific legal or factual contention and may ask the responding party to state the legal theories and to describe in general the factual bases for the party's claims or defenses, but interrogatories may not be used to require the responding party to marshal all of its available proof or the proof the party intends to offer at trial.

197.2 Response to Interrogatories.

(a) Time for response. The responding party must serve a written response on the requesting party within 30 days after service of the interrogatories, except that a defendant served with interrogatories before the defendant's answer is due need not respond until 50 days after service of the interrogatories.

(b) Content of response. A response must include the party's answers to the interrogatories and may include objections and assertions of privilege as required under these rules.

(c) Option to produce records. If the answer to an interrogatory may be derived or ascertained from public records, from the responding party's business records, or from a compilation, abstract or summary of the responding party's business records, and the burden of deriving or ascertaining the answer is substantially the same for the requesting party as for the responding party, the responding party may answer the interrogatory by specifying and, if applicable, producing the records or compilation, abstract or summary of the records. The records from which the answer may be derived or ascertained must be specified in sufficient detail to permit the requesting party to locate and identify them as readily as can the responding party. If the responding party has specified business records, the responding party must state a reasonable time and place for examination of the documents. The responding party must produce the documents at the time and place stated, unless otherwise agreed by the parties or ordered by the court, and must provide the requesting party a reasonable opportunity to inspect them.

(d) Verification required; exceptions. A responding party - not an agent or attorney as otherwise permitted by Rule 14 - must sign the answers under oath except that:

(1) when answers are based on information obtained from other persons, the party may so state, and

(2) a party need not sign answers to interrogatories about persons with knowledge of relevant facts, trial witnesses, and legal contentions.

197.3 Use. Answers to interrogatories may be used only against the responding party. An answer to an interrogatory inquiring about matters described in Rule 194.2( c) and (d) that has been amended or supplemented is not admissible and may not be used for impeachment.

Amended by order of Nov. 9, 1998, eff. Jan. 1, 1999.

Notes and Comments

Comments to 1999 change:

1. Interrogatories about specific legal or factual assertions ­ such as, whether a party claims a breach of implied warranty, or when a party contends that limitations began to run - are proper, but interrogatories that ask a party to state all legal and factual assertions are improper. As with requests for disclosure, interrogatories may be used to ascertain basic legal and factual claims and defenses but may not be used to force a party to mar­shal evidence. Use of the answers to such interrogatories is limited, just as the use of similar disclosures under Rule 194.6 is.

2. Rule 191's requirement that a party's attorney sign all discovery responses and objections applies to interrogatory responses and objections. In addition, the responding party must sign some interrogatory answers under oath, as specified by the rule. Answers in amended and supplemental responses must be signed by the party under oath only if the original answers were required to be signed under oath. The failure to sign or verify answers is only a formal defect that does not otherwise impair the answers unless the party refuses to sign or verify the answers after the defect is pointed out.

Technical Correction by order of Dec. 31, 1998, eff. Jan. 1, 1999: Rule 197.2(d) is modified as follows: "Verification required; exceptions. A responding party - not an agent or attorney as otherwise permitted by Rule 14 - must sign the answers under oath except that: ".

Prior Amendments Future Amendments
Aug. 4, 1998, eff. Jan. 1, 1999