This post on Admissions is the fifth part of a seven-part series on forms of discovery in Texas. The topics are listed below:
In civil litigation, discovery refers to the process where parties in a lawsuit exchange relevant facts and information about a case. In order to facilitate that exchange, the discovery process includes the ability to request admissions from another party. Submitted in writing, this part of discovery allows the responding party to admit or deny the truth and accuracy of any facts or opinions relevant to the case. Rule 198 of the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure outlines the parameters of a Request for Admission as well as any responses to the request, including objections.
As with other aspects of discovery, the Request for Admission should be concisely crafted to elicit the most useful and accurate response. Admissions can be useful time savers; if a responding party acknowledges the truth of a claim, the focus narrows to only those claims that are disputed. In the interest of full disclosure, the responding party must either admit or deny the Request for Admission. The responding party may qualify an answer or admit a portion of the request while denying another portion of it. If refusing to answer all or part of the request, the responding party must state appropriate objections and/or applicable privileges. The responding party must try to find any information necessary to either admit or deny a request. Only after making a reasonable attempt is it acceptable not to answer a Request for Admission.
Once the responding party submits an admission, the court accepts it as conclusive. If the party later wants to withdraw or amend the admission, the court may permit it, depending on the reasons and impact of those changes. A response to a Request for Admission must be answered in a specific time period, either 50 days or 30 days after the request, depending on when in the discovery process the request is made. Any response not submitted within that timeframe is treated as an admission by the court, so a prompt response is critical.
Below is Rule 198, which details the guidelines and procedures for admissions during the discovery process:
198.1 Request for Admissions.
A party may serve on another party - no later than 30 days before the end of the discovery period -written requests that the other party admit the truth of any matter within the scope of discovery, including statements of opinion or of fact or of the application of law to fact, or the genuineness of any documents served with the request or otherwise made available for inspection and copying. Each matter for which an admission is requested must be stated separately.
198.2 Response to Requests for Admissions.
(a)Time for response. The responding party must serve a written response on the requesting party within 30 days after service of the request.
(b)Content of response. Unless the responding party states an objection or asserts a privilege, the responding party must specifically admit or deny the request or explain in detail the reasons that the responding party cannot admit or deny the request. A response must fairly meet the substance of the request. The responding party may qualify an answer, or deny a request in part, only when good faith requires. Lack of information or knowledge is not a proper response unless the responding party states that a reasonable inquiry was made but that the information known or easily obtainable is insufficient to enable the responding party to admit or deny. An assertion that the request presents an issue for trial is not a proper response.
(c)Effect of failure to respond. If a response is not timely served, the request is considered admitted without the necessity of a court order.
198.3 Effect of Admissions; Withdrawal or Amendment.
Any admission made by a party under this rule may be used solely in the pending action and not in any other proceeding. A matter admitted under this rule is conclusively established as to the party making the admission unless the court permits the party to withdraw or amend the admission. The court may permit the party to withdraw or amend the admission if:
(a) the party shows good cause for the withdrawal or amendment; and
(b) the court finds that the parties relying upon the responses and deemed admissions will not be unduly prejudiced and that the presentation of the merits of the action will be subserved by permitting the party to amend or withdraw the admission.
Rule 198 - Requests for Admissions, Tex. R. Civ. P. 198
Rules about admissions during discovery are complex, especially when determining the proper timeframe for requests and responses. Failing to follow those rules can have serious consequences in the outcome of the litigation. Hiring a lawyer who is knowledgeable about the requirements and details of discovery will help a litigant avoid the difficulties that result from not requesting admissions appropriately.
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