After filing a lawsuit, the next step is beginning the discovery process. “Discovery” is the formal term for saying that the parties will exchange information and documents about the case. This process typically lasts six months in Georgia, but obviously the time period depends on the nature of the case. For example, complicated products liability cases tend to last longer than an admitted liability automobile accident. For the next series of blog posts, we are going to discuss three useful discovery tools, requests for admission, interrogatories, and requests for production of documents.
The first type of discovery tool we are going to discuss are requests for admissions. Georgia law, O.C.G.A. 9-11-36, is pretty involved in this area as you can imagine:
(1) A party may serve upon any other party a written request for the admission, for purposes of the pending action only, of the truth of any matters within the scope of subsection (b) of Code Section 9-11-26 which are set forth in the request and that relate to statements or opinions of fact or of the application of law to fact, including the genuineness of any documents described in the request. Copies of documents shall be served with the request unless they have been or are otherwise furnished or made available for inspection and copying. The request may, without leave of court, be served upon the plaintiff after commencement of the action and upon any other party with or after service of the summons and complaint upon that party.
(2) Each matter of which an admission is requested shall be separately set forth. The matter is admitted unless, within 30 days after service of the request or within such shorter or longer time as the court may allow, the party to whom the request is directed serves upon the party requesting the admission a written answer or objection addressed to the matter, signed by the party or by his attorney; but unless the court shortens the time, a defendant shall not be required to serve answers or objections before the expiration of 45 days after service of the summons and complaint upon him. If objection is made, the reasons therefor shall be stated. The answer shall specifically deny the matter or set forth in detail the reasons why the answering party cannot truthfully admit or deny the matter. A denial shall fairly meet the substance of the requested admission; and, when good faith requires that a party qualify his answer or deny only a part of the matter of which an admission is requested, he shall specify so much of it as is true and qualify or deny the remainder. An answering party may not give lack of information or knowledge as a reason for failure to admit or deny unless he states that he has made reasonable inquiry and that the information known or readily obtainable by him is insufficient to enable him to admit or deny. A party who considers that a matter of which an admission has been requested presents a genuine issue for trial may not, on that ground alone, object to the request; he may, subject to subsection (c) of Code Section 9-11-37, deny the matter or set forth reasons why he cannot admit or deny it.
(3) The party who has requested the admissions may move to determine the sufficiency of the answers or objections. Unless the court determines that an objection is justified, it shall order that an answer be served. If the court determines that an answer does not comply with the requirements of this subsection, it may order either that the matter is admitted or that an amended answer be served. The court may, in lieu of these orders, determine that final disposition of the request be made at a pretrial conference or at a designated time prior to trial. Paragraph (4) of subsection (a) of Code Section 9-11-37 shall apply to the award of expenses incurred in relation to the motion.
(b) Effect of admission. Any matter admitted under this Code section is conclusively established unless the court, on motion, permits withdrawal or amendment of the admission. Subject to Code Section 9-11-16 governing amendment of a pretrial order, the court may permit withdrawal or amendment when the presentation of the merits of the action will be subserved thereby and the party who obtained the admission fails to satisfy the court that withdrawal or amendment will prejudice him in maintaining his action or defense on the merits. Any admission made by a party under this Code section is for the purpose of the pending action only and is not an admission by him for any other purpose, nor may it be used against him in any other proceeding.
Well, that was a long statute… So what does it mean? What does a request look like? How can a we apply it to my case? Think of a request for an admission as a “yes” or “no” question. It’s a great way to streamline issues for a case, such as confirming the correct court, establishing that the defendant was served with the lawsuit, and even trying to establish liability against the defendant.
Here’s a general template for a request of admission:
IN THE STATE COURT OF [INSERT] COUNTY
STATE OF GEORGIA
[INSERT YOUR NAME],
Plaintiff, Civil Action File No.:
JURY TRIAL DEMANDED
[INSERT DEFENDANT’S NAME],
PLAINTIFF’S FIRST REQUESTS FOR ADMISSION TO DEFENDANT
Pursuant to O.C.G.A. § 9-11-36, you are hereby required to answer in the form provided by law the following Requests for Admission:
You have been correctly named in the present case insofar as it concerns the legal designation of names.
You have been properly served as a party defendant.
Process is sufficient with regard to you in this case.
Service of process is sufficient with regard to you in this case.
[INSERT COURT NAME] has jurisdiction over the subject matter of this case.
[INSERT COURT NAME] has personal jurisdiction over you as a party defendant in this case.
Venue is proper in [INSERT COURT NAME].
Plaintiff states a claim upon which this Court can grant relief.
Plaintiff has not failed to join a party under O.C.G.A. § 9-11-19.
You negligently caused the collision that is the subject of this case.
Plaintiff was not at fault in the collision causing his injuries.
Plaintiff did nothing wrong with regard to the collisions causing his/her injuries in this case.
This _____ day of _________, ________.
[INSERT NAME, ADDRESS, AND CONTACT INFORMATION]
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