We have a lot of discussion with our clients and on this website about the phases of a case, and on the website, we always tell people that the first phase of the case is the written discovery phase. But a question posed to me yesterday made it clear that I haven’t properly explained what that means.
The written discovery phase of the case is the part of the case where the parties ask each other questions in writing and make written requests that the other side provide documents relevant to the case. There are generally four types of written discovery that we will use: a request for disclosure, interrogatories, a request for production, and a request for admission. I’ll give you examples of these in posts over the next few days.
For each of these, the client and the attorney have to work together to make sure that they are answered completely and accurately. In our cases, we’ll send each of these to our clients and ask them to do their best to answer it on their own — this usually gives us additional information that we may not have obtained had we sat down and guided the client through the process. We’ll then work together with the client to come up with the final product.
In general, a party has 30 days to respond to any of these requests so it’s important to cooperate fully with your lawyer to make sure that you can meet the deadlines.
Today’s post focuses on the request for disclosure. The request for disclosure is a form that the parties send to one another requesting answers to questions and the production of certain documents that are routine in every case (the other discovery items are more specifically tailored depending on the type of case). These requests are very general and they have been set out in a rule of procedure so they are exchanged in every case. They have been “blessed” by the Texas Supreme Court and attorneys can’t object to them so they must be answered fully.
The standard request for disclosure asks a part to disclose the following:
1. The correct names of the parties to the lawsuit.
2. The name, address, and telephone number of any potential parties.
3. The legal theories and, in general, the factual bases of the responding party’s claims or defenses.
4. The amount and any method of calculating economic damages.
5. The name, address, and telephone number of persons having knowledge of relevant facts, and a brief statement of each identified person’s connection with the case.
6. For any testifying expert:
a. the expert’s name, address, and telephone number;
b. the subject matter on which the expert will testify; and
c. the general substance of the expert’s mental impressions and opinions and a brief summary of the basis for them, or if the expert is not retained by, employed by, or otherwise subject to the control of the responding party, documents reflecting such information.
If the expert is retained by, employed by, or otherwise subject to the control of the responding party:
i. all documents, tangible things, reports, model, or data compilations that have been provided to, reviewed by, or prepared by or for the expert in anticipation of the expert’s testimony; and
ii. the expert’s current resume and bibliography.
7. Any discoverable indemnity and insuring agreement.
8. Any discoverable settlement agreements.
9. Any discoverable witness statements.
10. In a suit alleging physical or mental injury and damages from the occurrence that is the subject of the case, all medical records and bills that are reasonably related to the injuries or damages asserted or, in lieu thereof, an authorization permitting the disclosure of such medical records and bills.
11. In a suit alleging physical or mental injury and damages from the occurrence that is the subject of the case, all medical records and bills obtained by the responding party by virtue of an authorization furnished by the requesting party.
12. The name, address, and telephone number of any person who may be designated as a responsible third party.
As I mentioned, it’s important to fully respond to the disclosure. If you don’t, then the information requested might be excluded from trial. For example, if you fail to name someone as a witness, then you won’t be able to call that person at trial.