Legal Memorandum: Standards for Objecting Discovery as Vague

Issue: Under the Federal Rules, what standards are used to determine whether or not an objection to discovery based on the argument that the requests are vague are valid?

Area of Law: Litigation & Procedure
Keywords: Objection to discovery; Vague or ambiguous; Discovery request
Jurisdiction: Federal
Cited Cases: None
Cited Statutes: Rule 34
Date: 06/01/2013

The general rule is that the responding party should exercise reason and common sense to attribute ordinary definitions to terms and phrases utilized in the discovery documents.  McCoo v. Denny’s Inc., 192 F.R.D. 675, 694 (D. Kan. 2000). 

Objections that state that a discovery request is “vague, overly broad, or unduly burdensome” are, standing alone, meaningless and fail to comply with both the Local Rules and Rule 34’s requirement that objections contain a statement of reasons.  See Pitts v. Francis, 2008 WL 2229524, at *2.  A party objecting on these grounds must explain the specific and particular way in which a request is vague, overly broad, or unduly burdensome.

Bank of Mongolia v. M&P Global Fin. Servs., Inc., 258 F.R.D. 514, 519 (S.D. Fla. 2009).

“The party objecting to discovery as vague or ambiguous has the burden to show such vagueness or ambiguity.”  Pulsecard, Inc. v. Discover Card Servs., Inc., 168 F.R.D. 295, 310 (D. Kan. 1996).  Without adequate reason, the objections must be overruled.  See Thomas v. Hickman, No. 1:06-CV-00215 (E.D Cal. Dec. 6, 2007) (“The objections are not sufficiently specific or adequately explained.  The objections with regard to the terms and definitions accompanying the subpoenas in this case could have, and should have been, resolved without court intervention.  Because defendant fails to provide adequate reasons for the objections here, the Court overrules these objections.”).


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