Legal Memorandum: Standards for Answers to Interrogatories

Issue: What are the Standards for Answers to Interrogatories in California?

Area of Law: Litigation & Procedure
Keywords: Answers to interrogatories; Opinion or contention
Jurisdiction: California
Cited Cases: 257 Cal. App. 2d 1; 455 P.2d 409; 58 Cal. Rptr. 2d 182; 83 Cal. Rptr. 231; 267 Cal. App. 2d 42; 3 Cal. App. 3d 195; 72 Cal. Rptr. 589
Cited Statutes: Cal. Civ. Proc. Code § 2030(f)(1), 2030(f)(3), § 2030(c)(6), § 2018(c), § 2018 (b), § 2034, § 437
Date: 06/01/2000

Answers to interrogatories must be “as complete and straightforward as the information reasonably available to the responding party permits.”  Cal. Civ. Proc. Code § 2030(f)(1).  Section 2030(f)(1) further requires that “[i]f an interrogatory cannot be answered completely, it shall be answered to the extent possible.”  Section 2030(f)(3) further states that “[i]f only a part of an interrogatory is objectionable, the remainder of the interrogatory shall be answered.” 

The Discovery Act clearly states that a party may use interrogatories to determine the facts, witnesses, and writings on which a contention is based.  Cal. Civ. Proc. Code § 2030(c)(6); see also Burke v. Superior Court (1969) 71Cal. 2d 276, 455 P.2d 409, 78 Cal. Rptr. 481.  Further, § 2030(c)(6) specifically provides that an interrogatory is not objectionable because an answer to it involves an opinion or contention that relates to facts.

The Discovery Act goes even further.  Section 2030(c)(6) specifically provides that “[a]n interrogatory is not objectionable because an answer to it . . . would be based on information obtained or legal theories developed in anticipation of litigation or in preparation for trial.”  This statutory language codifies the holding in Southern Pacific Co. v. Superior Court (1969) 3 Cal. App. 3d 195, 83 Cal. Rptr. 231, where the court held that interrogatories seeking the factual basis for a contention are not vulnerable to objection on the ground that they invade the work-product protection.  See generally James E. Hogan, 1 […]