Legal Memorandum: Dismissal of Maintenance Claims in MN

Issue: Does the court have the authority to strike a Petitioner’s claim for maintenance for a failure to respond to discovery and, if so, what are the relevant considerations under Minnesota and Federal Rules?

Area of Law: Family Law, Litigation & Procedure
Keywords: Failure to respond to discovery; Claim for maintenance
Jurisdiction: Federal, Minnesota
Cited Cases: 957 F.2d 555; 242 F.3d 815; 427 U.S. 639; 341 F.3d 794
Cited Statutes: Minn. R. Civ. P. 37.04, R. 37.02(b)(2), (3); Federal Practice & Procedure—Civil § 2284; Federal Rules of Civil Procedure R. 37; Federal Rule 37(d)(1)(a)(ii)
Date: 05/01/2010

Pursuant to Minn. R. Civ. P. 37.04,

[i]f a party . . . fails . . . to serve answers or objections to interrogatories submitted pursuant to Rule 33, after proper service of the interrogatories,  . . . the court in which the action is pending on motion may make such orders in regard to the failure as are just, including any action authorized in Rule 37.02(b)(1), (2), and (3). 

Minn. R. Civ. P. 37.04.  The orders provided for in Rule 37.02(b)(1), (2), and (3), as referenced above, include “[a]n order refusing to allow the disobedient party to support . . . designated claims, or prohibiting that party from introducing designated matters in evidence,” and “[a]n order striking pleadings or parts thereof, . . . dismissing the action or proceeding or any part thereof, or rendering a judgment by default against the disobedient party.”  Id. at R. 37.02(b)(2), (3); see also 27 C.J.S. Discovery § 98 (2009) (stating that the failure of a party to answer interrogatories entitles the party propounding them to various remedies, including striking the non-responding party’s pleading, directing a nonsuit, dismissal of the action or claim, judgment by default, or prohibiting the non-responding party from introducing designated matters into evidence).  Thus, “[u]nder appropriate circumstances, a court may penalize a plaintiff’s failure or refusal to answer interrogatories by dismissing the claim or action to which the interrogatories pertain.”  27 C.J.S. Discovery § 99.   

Rule 37(d) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure parallels the Minnesota Rule.*FN1  Rule 37 is flexible, and the […]

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