Rule 33.01: Availability; Procedures for Use.



Any party may serve upon any other party written interrogatories to be answered by the party served or, if the party served is a public or private corporation or a partnership or association or governmental agency, by any officer or agent, who shall furnish such information as is available to the party. Interrogatories 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.

Each interrogatory shall be answered separately and fully in writing under oath, unless an objections is made to it or to a portion thereof, in which event the reasons and grounds for objection shall be stated with specifity in lieu of an answer for that portion to which an objection is made. An objection must clearly indicate whether responsive information is being witheld on the basis of that objection. The answers are to be signed by the person making them, and the objections signed by the attorney making them. The party upon whom the interrogatories have been served shall serve a copy of the answers, and objections if any, within 30 days after the service of the interrogatories, except that a defendant may serve answers or objections within 45 days after service of the summons and complaint upon that defendant. The court may allow a shorter or longer time. The party submitting the interrogatories may move for an order under Rule 37.01 with respect to any objection to or other failure to answer an interrogatory.

[As amended July 1, 1979 and order entered January 16, 2020 effective July 1, 2020.]

Advisory Commission Comment [2020].

Rule 33.01 is amended to require that objections to interrogatories be stated with specificity. The amendment is intended to make clear that vague, generalized, or “boilerplate” objections are improper. Instead, objections should be specific as to the grounds for the objection, describing the reason(s) in a manner that will reasonably inform the adverse party as to what aspect of the interrogatory the objection pertains, thereby facilitating the resolution of discovery disputes without the need for judicial intervention.

In addition, the rule is amended to require that any objection or response under Rule 33 make clear whether information is actually being withheld pursuant to that objection, if any. A responding party may object to part of a request, but a party should answer any part of an interrogatory for which no objection is made, making clear which part is being answered.
For example, a responding party may object to a Rule 33 interrogatory as overly broad on the grounds that the time period covered is too long, or that the breadth of sources from which documents are sought is unduly burdensome, providing the specific bases therefore, and further making clear whether the objection is being made in whole or in part. For any such objection or answer that covers only a part of the interrogatory, it should be clear from the objection or answer that the information contained in the answer is being limited to covering the specifically identified time period or sources for which the responding party has no objection.

This amendment should end the confusion that frequently arises when a responding party states several objections, but then still answers the interrogatory by providing information, leaving the requesting party uncertain whether and to what extent relevant and responsive information has been withheld on the basis of the objection. The producing party does not need to provide a detailed description or log of information withheld, but does need to respond in a manner that will alert and inform parties what information is being provided, and what categories or types of information have been withheld pursuant to objection, thereby facilitating an informed discussion of the objection.

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