The focus of this series is the various issues which cause objections during the discovery process, outlined below:
Permissibility of Discovery Tool
Number of Interrogatories
Outside the Scope of Discovery
Lacks Specific Description within Request
Vagueness, Lacks Specificity, or Ambiguity of Request
Information Obtainable from Another Source
Information Equally Available to the Other Party
Documents Already Produced
Request Creates Unnecessary Burden, Expense, or Made for Purposes of Harassment
Creation of Document not in Existence
Electronic and Magnetic Data
Personal, Constitutional or Property Rights
Inconvenient Time or Place
Information Unknown or Not in Possession of Responding Party
Persons with Knowledge of Relevant Facts
Request Seeks Admission of a Legal Proposition
Seeks Admission of Hearsay
Seeks Admission of a Matter of Opinion
Assertions of Privilege
Objection Because the Request Creates Unnecessary Burden, Expense, or Is Made for Purposes of Harassment
The exchange of information and evidence is an essential part of the discovery process. Providing the requested information may not always be helpful to a party’s case, but it will fulfill the goal of discovery, which is to provide information that “appears to be reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence.” TEX. R. CIV. P. 192.3(a); see Crown Cent. Petroleum Corp. v. Garcia, 904 S.W.2d 125, 127 (Tex. 1995). When requests do not conform to defined guidelines, the responding party has the right to object to that request. A frequent cause for objection, for example, is a request where the cost or burden outweighs its benefit. TEX. R. CIV. P. 192.4(b). This particular rule also helps to ensure that a request is not simply “a fishing expedition.”
Producing requested information and materials is often a challenge but is a necessary part of the discovery process. While a request may be burdensome, the responding party must provide proof that the request creates not simply a burden or expense, but an undue burden and unreasonable expense. See In re Campbell, 2010 WL 3431712, at *2–3 (Tex. App.—Austin 2010) (citing Garcia v. Peeples, 734 S.W.2d 343, 345 (Tex. 1987)).
A proper objection might include the following language:
OBJECTION: This Request is unduly burdensome, involves unnecessary expense, and/or made for the purpose of harassment. The burden or expense of the proposed discovery outweighs its likely benefit, taking into account the needs of the case, the amount in controversy, the parties’ resources, the importance of the issues at stake in the litigation, and the importance of the proposed discovery in resolving the issues. TEX. R. CIV. P. 192.4.
Making and responding to discovery requests is a critical part of the discovery process, one which can make or break a case. A lawyer trained and experienced in litigation will be knowledgeable of Texas Rules of Civil Procedure and therefore able to frame appropriate requests and responses, avoiding pitfalls that someone less familiar with Texas court proceedings might struggle with.
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