Articles Posted in Federal Rules of Civil Procedure

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Subpoenas are a type of discovery where we can get information and documents from non parties — people or companies who are not in the lawsuit.

The other types of discovery we have discussed so far — initial disclosures, interrogatories, request for production, and request for admissions — are only to the parties in the case. The Plaintiff (who filed the case/lawsuit) and the Defendant (who was sued and who has answered the lawsuit).

Why would we use a subpoena?

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Request for production of documents is a type of discovery that instead of asking for written answers (like interrogatories), this request is for paper and electronic documents. You can think of it as “Don’t tell me what the documents or videos say, just give me the documents or videos etc.”

What can you request with this type of discovery?

Basically any physical item or piece of data however it is stored. Here are examples:

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One common form of discovery is called an interrogatory which means one party in your lawsuit sends the other party a written question (or series of questions) that must be answered in writing.

What is an interrogatory used for?

Interrogatories are used to get information from the other side. So you might ask things such as:

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After the parties have met to prepare a proposed scheduling order, then discovery begins and it starts with “initial disclosures” in a federal consumer protection lawsuit.

What are initial disclosures?

These include information and documents that each side gives to each other, without being asked. Almost all other forms of discovery only require a response when the other side asks you for documents or information.

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Sometimes Alabama consumers are faced with an “offer of judgment” in cases by debt collectors. An offer of judgment (OOJ) is made under Rule 68 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. It means what it says – the defendant is offering to allow the plaintiff consumer to take a judgment against the defendant.

Odd, huh? The reason defendant debt collectors do this is to “stop the bleeding” by limiting the damages that the plaintiff can recover. It is similar to a normal settlement offer but it has one twist in favor of the collection agency – if you reject the offer and then get a judgment for less than the amount of the OOJ, you can be responsible for some of the costs and expenses the debt collector incurred after you rejected the OOJ.

Normally, an OOJ is not terribly important as if you lose the case you may be responsible for many of these costs anyway. Also, the OOJ is rarely enough to cover a reasonable jury verdict and the attorney’s fees that are owed.

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