Article 5.

Depositions and Discovery.

 

Rule 26.  General provisions governing discovery.

(a)        Discovery methods. - Parties may obtain discovery by one or more of the following methods: depositions upon oral examination or written questions; written interrogatories; production of documents or things or permission to enter upon land or other property, for inspection and other purposes; physical and mental examinations; and requests for admission.

(b)        Discovery scope and limits. - Unless otherwise limited by order of the court in accordance with these rules, the scope of discovery is as follows:

(1)        In General. - Parties may obtain discovery regarding any matter, not privileged, which is relevant to the subject matter involved in the pending action, whether it relates to the claim or defense of the party seeking discovery or to the claim or defense of any other party, including the existence, description, nature, custody, condition and location of any books, documents, electronically stored information, or other tangible things and the identity and location of persons having knowledge of any discoverable matter. It is not ground for objection that the information sought will be inadmissible at the trial if the information sought appears reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence nor is it grounds for objection that the examining party has knowledge of the information as to which discovery is sought. For the purposes of these rules regarding discovery, the phrase "electronically stored information" includes reasonably accessible metadata that will enable the discovering party to have the ability to access such information as the date sent, date received, author, and recipients. The phrase does not include other metadata unless the parties agree otherwise or the court orders otherwise upon motion of a party and a showing of good cause for the production of certain metadata.

(1a)      Limitations on Frequency and Extent. - The frequency or extent of use of the discovery methods set forth in section (a) shall be limited by the court if it determines that: (i) the discovery sought is unreasonably cumulative or duplicative, or is obtainable from some other source that is more convenient, less burdensome, or less expensive; (ii) the party seeking discovery has had ample opportunity by discovery in the action to obtain the information sought; or (iii) the discovery is unduly burdensome or expensive, taking into account the needs of the case, the amount in controversy, limitations on the parties' resources, and the importance of the issues at stake in the litigation. The court may act upon its own initiative after reasonable notice or pursuant to a motion under section (c).

(1b)      Specific Limitations on Electronically Stored Information. - In addition to any limitations imposed by subdivision (b)(1a) of this rule, discovery of electronically stored information is subject to the limitations set forth in Rule 34(b). The court may specify conditions for the discovery, including allocation of discovery costs.

(2)        Insurance Agreements. - A party may obtain discovery of the existence and contents of any insurance agreement under which any person carrying on an insurance business may be liable to satisfy part or all of a judgment which may be entered in the action or to indemnify or reimburse for payments made to satisfy the judgment. Information concerning the insurance agreement is not by reason of disclosure admissible in evidence at trial. For purposes of this subsection, an application for insurance shall not be treated as part of an insurance agreement.

(2a)      Bankruptcy Trust Personal Injury Claims. -

a.         Within 30 days after a civil action is filed asserting personal injury claiming disease based upon exposure to asbestos, the plaintiff shall provide to all parties a sworn statement indicating that an investigation of all bankruptcy trust claims has been conducted and that all bankruptcy trust claims that can be made by the plaintiff have been filed.

b.         The plaintiff shall provide the parties with the identity of all bankruptcy trust claims made and all materials submitted to or received from a bankruptcy trust.

c.         The plaintiff shall supplement the information and materials that plaintiff provides pursuant to this subsection within 30 days after the plaintiff files an additional bankruptcy trust claim, supplements an existing bankruptcy trust claim, or receives additional information or materials related to any claim against a bankruptcy trust.

d.         If a defendant has a reasonable belief that the plaintiff can file additional bankruptcy trust claims, the defendant may move the court to stay the civil action until the plaintiff files the bankruptcy trust claim.

e.         A defendant in the civil action may seek discovery from a bankruptcy trust. The plaintiff may not claim privilege or confidentiality to bar discovery and shall provide consent or other expression of permission that may be required by the bankruptcy trust to release information and materials sought by the defendant.

(3)        Trial Preparation; Materials. - Subject to the provisions of subsection (b)(4) of this rule, a party may obtain discovery of documents and tangible things otherwise discoverable under subsection (b)(1) of this rule and prepared in anticipation of litigation or for trial by or for another party or by or for that other party's consultant, surety, indemnitor, insurer, or agent only upon a showing that the party seeking discovery has substantial need of the materials in the preparation of the case and that the party is unable without undue hardship to obtain the substantial equivalent of the materials by other means. In ordering discovery of such materials when the required showing has been made, the court may not permit disclosure of the mental impressions, conclusions, opinions, or legal theories of an attorney or other representative of a party concerning the litigation in which the material is sought or work product of the attorney or attorneys of record in the particular action.

A party may obtain without the required showing a statement concerning the action or its subject matter previously made by that party. Upon request, a person not a party may obtain without the required showing a statement concerning the action or its subject matter previously made by that person. If the request is refused, the person may move for a court order. The provisions of Rule 37(a)(4) apply to the award of expenses incurred in relation to the motion. For purposes of this paragraph, a statement previously made is (i) a written statement signed or otherwise adopted or approved by the person making it, or (ii) a stenographic, mechanical, electrical, or other recording, or a transcription thereof, which is a substantially verbatim recital of an oral statement by the person making it and contemporaneously recorded.

(4)        Trial Preparation; Discovery of Experts. - Discovery of facts known and opinions held by experts, that are otherwise discoverable under the provisions of subdivision (1) of this subsection and acquired or developed in anticipation of litigation or for trial, may be obtained only as provided by this subdivision:

a.         1.         In general. - In order to provide openness and avoid unfair tactical advantage in the presentation of a case at trial, a party must disclose to the other parties in accordance with this subdivision the identity of any witness it may use at trial to present evidence under Rule 702, Rule 703, or Rule 705 of the North Carolina Rules of Evidence.

2.         Witnesses providing a written report. - The parties shall have the option, in connection with the disclosures required by this subdivision, of accompanying the disclosure with a written report prepared and signed by the witness if the witness is one retained or specifically employed to provide expert testimony in the case or one whose duties as the party's employee regularly involve giving expert testimony. If the parties agree to accompany their disclosure pursuant to this subdivision with a written report, the report must contain all of the following:

I.          A complete statement of all opinions the witness will express and the basis and reasons for them.

II.        The facts or data considered by the witness in forming them.

III.       Any exhibits that will be used to summarize or support them.

IV.       The witness' qualifications, including a list of all publications authored in the previous 10 years.

V.        A list of all other cases in which, during the previous four years, the witness testified as an expert at trial or by deposition.

VI.       A statement of the compensation to be paid for the study and testimony in the case.

3.         Witnesses not providing expert reports. - Unless otherwise stipulated to by the parties, or ordered by the court, a party may through interrogatories require any other party to identify each person whom the other party expects to call as an expert witness at trial, to state the subject matter on which the expert is expected to testify pursuant to Rule 702, Rule 703, or Rule 705 of the North Carolina Rules of Evidence and to state the substance of the facts and opinions to which the expert is expected to testify and a summary of the grounds for each opinion.

b.         Depositions. -

1.         Depositions of an expert who may testify. - A party may depose any person who has been identified as an expert pursuant to this subdivision, with such deposition to be conducted after any written report is provided or identification by response to interrogatory has been made pursuant to sub-subdivision f. of this subdivision.

2.         Expert employed only for trial preparation. - Except as otherwise provided in this sub-sub-subdivision, a party may not, by interrogatories or deposition, discover facts known or opinions held by an expert who has been retained or specially employed by another party in anticipation of litigation or to prepare for trial and who is not expected to be called as a witness at trial. A party may take such discovery only as provided in Rule 35(b) or upon showing exceptional circumstances under which it is impracticable for the party to obtain facts or opinions on the same subject by other means.

c.         Payment. - Unless manifest injustice would result and absent court order, the party seeking discovery under sub-subdivision b. of this subdivision shall pay the expert a reasonable fee for the time spent at that expert's deposition.

d.         Trial preparation protection for draft reports or disclosures. - Drafts of reports provided under sub-sub-subdivision 2. of sub-subdivision a. of this subdivision are protected from disclosure and are not discoverable regardless of the form in which the draft is recorded.

e.         Trial preparation protection for communications between a party's attorney and expert witness. - Except as otherwise provided in this sub-subdivision, communications between a party's attorney and any witness providing a report pursuant to sub-sub-subdivision 2. of sub-subdivision a. of this subdivision or identified under sub-sub-subdivision 3. of sub-subdivision a. of this subdivision, regardless of the form of the communication, are protected from disclosure and are not discoverable. Such communications are discoverable only to the extent that the communications do any of the following:

1.         Relate to compensation for the expert's study or testimony.

2.         Identify facts or data that the party's attorney provided and that the expert considered in forming the opinions to be expressed.

3.         Identify assumptions that the party's attorney provided and that the expert relied on in forming the opinions to be expressed.

f.          Time to disclose expert witness testimony. - Parties agreeing to the submission of written reports pursuant to sub-sub-subdivision 2. of sub-subdivision a. of this subdivision or parties otherwise seeking to obtain disclosure as set forth herein by interrogatory shall, unless otherwise stipulated, set by scheduling order or otherwise ordered by the court, serve such written report or in the case of no agreement on the submission of written reports, interrogatory:

1.         At least 90 days before the date set for trial or the case to be ready for trial; or

2.         If the evidence is intended solely to contradict or rebut evidence on the same subject matter identified by another party under sub-subdivision a. of this subdivision, within 30 days after the other party's disclosure. If a party fails to provide timely disclosure under this rule, the court may, upon motion, take such action as it deems just, including ordering that the party may not present at trial the expert witness for whom disclosure was not timely made.

The time requirements of this sub-subdivision shall not apply if all parties had less than 120-days' notice of the trial date.

g.         Supplementation. - The parties must supplement these disclosures when required under subsection (e) of this rule.

(5)        Claiming Privilege or Protecting Trial-Preparation Materials.

a.         Information withheld. - When a party withholds information otherwise discoverable by claiming that the information is privileged or subject to protection as trial-preparation material, the party must (i) expressly make the claim and (ii) describe the nature of the documents, communications, or tangible things not produced or disclosed, and do so in a manner that, without revealing information itself privileged or protected, will enable other parties to assess the claim.

b.         Information produced. - If information subject to a claim of privilege or protection as trial-preparation material is inadvertently produced in response to a discovery request, the party that produced the material may assert the claim by notifying any party that received the information of the claim and basis for it. After being notified, a party (i) must promptly return, sequester, or destroy the specified information and any copies it has, (ii) must not use or disclose the information until the claim is resolved, (iii) must take reasonable steps to retrieve the information if the party disclosed it before being notified, and (iv) may promptly present the information to the court under seal for determination of the claim. The producing party must preserve the information until the claim is resolved.

(c)        Protective orders. - Upon motion by a party or by the person from whom discovery is sought, and for good cause shown, the judge of the court in which the action is pending may make any order which justice requires to protect a party or person from unreasonable annoyance, embarrassment, oppression, or undue burden or expense, including one or more of the following: (i) that the discovery not be had; (ii) that the discovery may be had only on specified terms and conditions, including a designation of the time or place; (iii) that the discovery may be had only by a method of discovery other than that selected by the party seeking discovery; (iv) that certain matters not be inquired into, or that the scope of the discovery be limited to certain matters; (v) that discovery be conducted with no one present except persons designated by the court; (vi) that a deposition after being sealed be opened only by order of the court; (vii) that a trade secret or other confidential research, development, or commercial information not be disclosed or be disclosed only in a designated way; (viii) that the parties simultaneously file specified documents or information enclosed in sealed envelopes to be opened as directed by the court.

A party seeking a protective order on the basis that electronically stored information sought is from a source identified as not reasonably accessible because of undue burden or cost has the burden of showing that the basis exists. If the showing is made, the court may nonetheless order discovery from the source if the requesting party shows good cause, but only after considering the limitations of subsection [subdivision] (b)(1a) of this rule.

If the motion for a protective order is denied in whole or in part, the court may, on such terms and conditions as are just, order that any party or person provide or permit discovery. The provisions of Rule 37(a)(4) apply to the award of expenses incurred in relation to the motion.

(d)       Sequence and timing of discovery. - Unless the court upon motion, for the convenience of parties and witnesses and in the interests of justice, orders otherwise, methods of discovery may be used in any sequence and the fact that a party is conducting discovery, whether by deposition or otherwise, shall not operate to delay any other party's discovery. Any order or rule of court setting the time within which discovery must be completed shall be construed to fix the date after which the pendency of discovery will not be allowed to delay trial or any other proceeding before the court, but shall not be construed to prevent any party from utilizing any procedures afforded under Rules 26 through 36, so long as trial or any hearing before the court is not thereby delayed.

(e)        Supplementation of responses. - A party who has responded to a request for discovery with a response that was complete when made is under no duty to supplement the party's response to include information thereafter acquired, except as follows:

(1)        A party is under a duty seasonably to supplement the party's response with respect to any question directly addressed to (i) the identity and location of persons having knowledge of discoverable matters, and (ii) the identity of each person expected to be called as an expert witness at trial, the subject matter on which the person is expected to testify, and the substance of the testimony.

(2)        A party is under a duty seasonably to amend a prior response if the party obtains information upon the basis of which (i) the party knows that the response was incorrect when made, or (ii) the party knows that the response though correct when made is no longer true and the circumstances are such that a failure to amend the response is in substance a knowing concealment.

(3)        A duty to supplement responses may be imposed by order of the court, agreement of the parties, or at any time prior to trial through new requests for supplementation of prior responses.

(f)        Discovery meeting, discovery conference, discovery plan. -

(1)        No earlier than 40 days after the complaint is filed in an action, any party's attorney or an unrepresented party may request a meeting on the subject of discovery, including the discovery of electronically stored information. If such a request is filed, the parties shall meet in the county in which the action is pending not less than 21 days after the initial request for a meeting is filed and served upon the parties, unless agreed otherwise by the parties or their attorneys and unless an earlier time for the meeting is ordered by the court or agreed by the parties. Even if the parties or their attorneys do not seek to have a discovery meeting, at any time after commencement of an action the court may direct the parties or their attorneys to appear before it for a discovery conference.

(2)        During a discovery meeting held pursuant to subdivision (f)(1) of this rule, the attorneys and any unrepresented parties shall (i) consider the nature and basis of the parties' claims and defenses and the possibilities for promptly settling or resolving the case and (ii) discuss the preparation of a discovery plan as set forth in subdivision (f)(3) of this rule. Attorneys for the parties, and any unrepresented parties, that have appeared in the case are jointly responsible for arranging the meeting, for being prepared to discuss a discovery plan, and for attempting in good faith to agree on a discovery plan. The meeting may be held by telephone, by videoconference, or in person, or a combination thereof, unless the court, on motion, orders the attorneys and the unrepresented parties to attend in person. If a discovery plan is agreed upon, the plan shall be submitted to the court within 14 days after the meeting, and the parties may request a conference with the court regarding the plan. If the parties do not agree upon a discovery plan, they shall submit to the court within 14 days after the meeting a joint report containing those parts of a discovery plan upon which they agree and the position of each of the parties on the parts upon which they disagree. Unless the parties agree otherwise, the attorney for the first plaintiff listed on the complaint shall be responsible for submitting the discovery plan or joint report.

(3)        A discovery plan shall contain the following: (i) a statement of the issues as they then appear; (ii) a proposed plan and schedule of discovery, including the discovery of electronically stored information; (iii) with respect to electronically stored information, and if appropriate under the circumstances of the case, a reference to the preservation of such information, the media form, format, or procedures by which such information will be produced, the allocation of the costs of preservation, production, and, if necessary, restoration, of such information, the method for asserting or preserving claims of privilege or of protection of the information as trial-preparation materials if different from that provided in subdivision (b)(5) of this rule, the method for asserting or preserving confidentiality and proprietary status, and any other matters addressed by the parties; (iv) any limitations proposed to be placed on discovery, including, if appropriate under the circumstances of the case, that discovery be conducted in phases or be limited to or focused on particular issues; (v) when discovery should be completed; and (vi) if appropriate under the circumstances of the case, any limitations or conditions pursuant to subsection (c) of this rule regarding protective orders.

(4)        If the parties are unable to agree to a discovery plan at a meeting held pursuant to subdivision (f)(1) of this rule, they shall, upon motion of any party, appear before the court for a discovery conference at which the court shall order the entry of a discovery plan after consideration of the report required to be submitted under subdivision (f)(2) of this rule and the position of the parties. The order may address other matters, including the allocation of discovery costs, as are necessary for the proper management of discovery in the action. An order may be altered or amended as justice may require.

The court may combine the discovery conference with a pretrial conference authorized by Rule 16. A discovery conference in a medical malpractice action shall be governed by subsection (f1) of this rule.

(f1)      Medical malpractice discovery conference. - In a medical malpractice action as defined in G.S. 90-21.11, upon the case coming at issue or the filing of a responsive pleading or motion requiring a determination by the court, the judge shall, within 30 days, direct the attorneys for the parties to appear for a discovery conference. At the conference the court may consider the matters set out in Rule 16 and subdivision (f)(3) of this rule and shall:

(1)        Rule on all motions;

(2)        Establish an appropriate schedule for designating expert witnesses, consistent with a discovery schedule pursuant to subdivision (3), to be complied with by all parties to the action such that there is a deadline for designating all expert witnesses within an appropriate time for all parties to implement discovery mechanisms with regard to the designated expert witnesses;

(3)        Establish by order an appropriate discovery schedule designated so that, unless good cause is shown at the conference for a longer time, and subject to further orders of the court, discovery shall be completed within 150 days after the order is issued; nothing herein shall be construed to prevent any party from utilizing any procedures afforded under Rules 26 through 36, so long as trial or any hearing before the court is not thereby delayed; and

(4)        Approve any consent order which may be presented by counsel for the parties relating to subdivisions (2) and (3) of this subsection, unless the court finds that the terms of the consent order are unreasonable.

If a party fails to identify an expert witness as ordered, the court shall, upon motion by the moving party, impose an appropriate sanction, which may include dismissal of the action, entry of default against the defendant, or exclusion of the testimony of the expert witness at trial.

(g)        Signing of discovery requests, responses, and objections. - Every request for discovery or response or objection thereto made by a party represented by an attorney shall be signed by at least one attorney of record in that attorney's name, whose address shall be stated. A party who is not represented by an attorney shall sign the request, response, or objection and state that party's address. The signature of the attorney or party constitutes a certification that the attorney or party has read the request, response, or objection and that to the best of the knowledge, information, and belief of that attorney or party formed after a reasonable inquiry it is: (1) consistent with the rules and warranted by existing law or a good faith argument for the extension, modification, or reversal of existing law; (2) not interposed for any improper purpose, such as to harass or cause unnecessary delay or needless increase in the cost of litigation; and (3) not unreasonable or unduly burdensome or expensive, given the needs of the case, the discovery already had in the case, the amount in controversy, and the importance of the issues at stake in the litigation. If a request, response, or objection is not signed, it shall be stricken unless it is signed promptly after the omission is called to the attention of the party making the request, response, or objection and a party shall not be obligated to take any action with respect to it until it is signed.

If a certification is made in violation of the rule, the court, upon motion or upon its own initiative, shall impose upon the person who made the certification, the party on whose behalf the request, response, or objection is made, or both, an appropriate sanction, which may include an order to pay the amount of the reasonable expenses incurred because of the violation, including a reasonable attorney's fee.  (1967, c. 954, s. 1; 1971, c. 750; 1975, c. 762, s. 2; 1985, c. 603, ss. 1-4; 1987, c. 859, s. 3; 2011-199, s. 2; 2015-153, s. 1; 2018-4, s. 1.)

 

Rule 27. Depositions before action or pending appeal.

(a)        Before action. -

(1)        Petition. - A person who desires to perpetuate that person's own testimony or the testimony of another person regarding any matter may file a verified petition in the appropriate court in a county where any expected adverse party resides. The petition shall be entitled in the name of the petitioner and shall show: (i) that the petitioner expects that the petitioner, or  the petitioner's personal representative, heirs or devisees, will be a party to an action cognizable in any court, but that the petitioner is presently unable to bring it or cause it to be brought, (ii) the subject matter of the expected action and the petitioner's reasons for desiring to perpetuate it, (iii) the facts which the petitioner desires to establish by the proposed testimony and the petitioner's reasons for desiring to perpetuate it, (iv) the names or a description of the persons the petitioner expects will be adverse parties and their addresses so far as known, and (v) the names and addresses of the persons to be examined and the substance of the testimony which the petitioner expects to elicit from each, and shall ask for an order authorizing the petitioner to take the depositions of the persons to be examined named in the petition, for the purpose of perpetuating their testimony.

(2)        Notice and Service. - The petitioner shall thereafter serve a notice upon each person named in the petition as an expected adverse party, together with a copy of the petition, stating that the petitioner will apply to the court, at a time and place named therein, for the order described in the petition. At least 20 days before the date of hearing (or within such time as the court may direct) the notice shall be served in the manner provided in Rule 4(j)(1) or (2) for service of summons; but if such service cannot with due diligence be made upon any expected adverse party named in the petition, the court may make such order as is just for service by publication or otherwise, and shall appoint, for persons not served in the manner provided in Rule 4(j)(1) or (2), an attorney who shall represent them, in case they are not otherwise represented. If any expected adverse party is a minor or incompetent the provisions of Rule 17(c) apply.

(3)        Order and Examination. - If the court is satisfied that the perpetuation of the testimony may prevent a failure or delay of justice, it shall make an order designating or describing the persons whose depositions may be taken and specifying the subject matter of the examination and whether the depositions shall be taken upon oral examination or written questions. The depositions may then be taken in accordance with these rules; and the court may make orders of the character provided for by Rules 34 and 35. For the purpose of applying these rules to depositions for perpetuating testimony, each reference therein to the court in which the action is pending shall be deemed to refer to the court in which the petition for such deposition was filed.

(4)        Use of Deposition. - If a deposition to perpetuate testimony is taken under these rules or if, although not so taken, it would be admissible in evidence in the courts of the United States or the state in which it is taken, it may be used in any action involving the same subject matter subsequently brought in a court of this State in accordance with the provisions of Rule 32(a), or in any other court under whose rules it is admissible.

(b)        Pending appeal. - If an appeal has been taken from the determination of any court or if petition for review or certiorari has been served and filed, or before the taking of an appeal or the filing of a petition for review or certiorari if the time therefor has not expired, the court in which the determination was made may allow the taking of the depositions of witnesses to perpetuate their testimony for use in the event of further proceedings in the trial court. In such case the party who desires to perpetuate the testimony may make a motion in the trial court for leave to take the depositions, upon the same notice and service thereof as if the action was pending in the trial court. The motion shall show (i) the names and addresses of the persons to be examined and the substance of the testimony which the party expects to elicit from each; (ii) the reasons for perpetuating their testimony. If the court finds that the perpetuation of the testimony is proper to avoid a failure or delay of justice, it may make an order allowing the depositions to be taken and may make orders of the character provided for by Rules 34 and 35, and thereupon the depositions may be taken and used in the same manner and under the same conditions as are prescribed in these rules for depositions taken in actions pending in the trial court.

(c)        Perpetuation by action. - This rule does not limit the power of a court to entertain an action to perpetuate testimony.  (1967, c. 954, s. 1; 1975, c. 762, s. 2; 2011-284, s. 5.)

 

Rule 28. Persons before whom depositions may be taken.

(a)        Within the United States. - Within the United States or within a territory or insular possession subject to the dominion of the United States, depositions shall be taken before a person authorized to administer oaths by the laws of this State, of the United States or of the place where the examination is held, or before a person appointed by the court in which the action is pending. A person so appointed has power to administer oaths and take testimony.

(b)        In foreign countries. - Depositions may be taken in a foreign country:

(1)        Pursuant to any applicable treaty or convention;

(2)        Pursuant to a letter of request, whether or not captioned a letter rogatory;

(3)        On notice before a person authorized to administer oaths in the place where the examination is held, either by the law thereof or by the law of the United States; or

(4)        Before a person commissioned by the court, and a person so commissioned shall have the power by virtue of his commission to administer any necessary oath and take testimony. A commission or a letter of request shall be issued on application and notice and on terms that are just and appropriate. It is not requisite to the issuance of a commission or a letter of request that the taking of the deposition in any other manner is impracticable or inconvenient; and both a commission and a letter of request may be issued in proper cases. A notice or commission may designate the person before whom the deposition is to be taken either by name or descriptive title. A letter of request may be addressed "To the Appropriate Authority in (here name the country)." When a letter of request or any other device is used pursuant to any applicable treaty or convention, it shall be captioned in the form prescribed by that treaty or convention. Evidence obtained in response to a letter of request need not be excluded merely because the testimony was not taken under oath, or any similar departure from the requirements for depositions taken within the United States under these rules.

(c)        Disqualification for interest. - Unless the parties agree otherwise by stipulation as provided in Rule 29, no deposition shall be taken before a person who is any of the following:

(1)        A relative, employee, or attorney of any of the parties;

(2)        A relative or employee of an attorney of the parties;

(3)        Financially interested in the action; or

(4)        An independent contractor if the contractor or the contractor's principal is under a blanket contract for the court reporting services with an attorney of the parties, party to the action, or party having a financial interest in the action. Notwithstanding the disqualification under this rule, the party desiring to take the deposition under a stipulation shall disclose the disqualification in writing in a Rule 30(b) notice of deposition and shall inform all parties to the litigation on the record of the existence of the disqualification under this rule and of the proposed stipulation waiving the disqualification. Any party opposing the proposed stipulation as provided in the notice of deposition shall give timely written notice of his or her opposition to all parties.

For the purposes of this rule, a blanket contract means a contract to perform court reporting services over a fixed period of time or an indefinite period of time, rather than on a case by case basis, or any other contractual arrangement which compels, guarantees, regulates, or controls the use of particular court reporting services in future cases.

Notwithstanding any other provision of law, a person is prohibited from taking a deposition under any contractual agreement that requires transmission of the original transcript without the transcript having been certified as provided in Rule 30(f) by the person before whom the deposition was taken.

Notwithstanding the provisions of this subsection, a person otherwise disqualified from taking a deposition under this subsection may take a deposition provided that the deposition is taken by videotape in compliance with Rule 30(b)(4) and Rule 30(f), and the notice for the taking of the deposition states the name of the person before whom the deposition will be taken and that person's relationship, if any, to a party or a party's attorney, provided that the deposition is also recorded by stenographic means by a nondisqualified person.

(d)       Depositions to be used in foreign countries.

(1)        A person desiring to take depositions in this State to be used in proceedings pending in the courts of any other country may present to a judge of the superior or district court a commission, order, notice, consent, or other authority under which the deposition is to be taken, whereupon it shall be the duty of the judge to issue the necessary subpoenas pursuant to Rule 45. Orders of the character provided in Rules 30(b), 30(d), and 45(b) may be made upon proper application therefor by the person to whom such subpoena is directed. Failure by any person without adequate excuse to obey a subpoena served upon him pursuant to this rule may be deemed a contempt of the court from which the subpoena issued.

(2)        The commissioner herein provided for shall not proceed to act under and by virtue of his appointment until the party seeking to obtain such deposition has deposited with him a sufficient sum of money to cover all costs and charges incident to the taking of the deposition, including such witness fees as are allowed to witnesses in this State for attendance upon the superior court. From such deposit the commissioner shall retain whatever amount may be due him for services, pay the witness fees and other costs that may have been incurred by reason of taking such deposition, and if any balance remains in his hands, he shall pay the same to the party by whom it was advanced.  (1967, c. 954, s. 1; 1975, c. 762, s. 2; 1995, c. 389, s. 4; 1999-264, s. 1; 2001-379, s. 4; 2011-247, s. 2.)

 

Rule 29. Stipulations regarding discovery procedure.

Unless the court orders otherwise, the parties may by written stipulation (i) provide that depositions may be taken before any person, at any time or place, upon any notice, and in any manner and when so taken may be used like other depositions, and (ii) modify the procedures provided by these rules for other methods of discovery. (1967, c. 954, s. 1; 1975, c. 762, s. 1.)

 

Rule 30. Depositions upon oral examination.

(a)        When depositions may be taken. - After commencement of the action, any party may take the testimony of any person, including a party, by deposition upon oral examination. Leave of court, granted with or without notice, must be obtained only if the plaintiff seeks to take a deposition prior to the expiration of 30 days after service of the summons and complaint upon any defendant or service made under Rule 4(e), except that leave is not required (i) if a defendant has served a notice of taking deposition or otherwise sought discovery, or (ii) if special notice is given as provided in subsection (b)(2) of this rule. The attendance of witnesses may be compelled by subpoena as provided in Rule 45, provided that no subpoena need be served on a deponent who is a party or an officer, director or managing agent of a party, provided the party has been served with notice pursuant to subsection (b)(1) of this rule. The deposition of a person confined in prison or of a patient receiving in-patient care in or confined to an institution or hospital for the mentally ill or mentally handicapped may be taken only by leave of court on such terms as the court prescribes.

(b)        Notice of examination; general requirements; place of examination; special notice; nonstenographic recording; production of documents and things; deposition of organization. -

(1)        A party desiring to take the deposition of any person upon oral examination shall give notice in writing to every other party to the action. The notice shall state the time and place for taking the deposition and the name and address of each person to be examined, if known, and, if the name is not known, a general description sufficient to identify him or the particular class or group to which he belongs. If a subpoena duces tecum is to be served on the person to be examined, the designation of the materials to be produced as set forth in the subpoena shall be attached to or included in the notice. The notice shall be served on all parties at least 15 days prior to the taking of the deposition when any party required to be served resides without the State and shall be served on all parties at least 10 days prior to the taking of the deposition when all of the parties required to be served reside within the State. Depositions of parties, officers, directors or managing agents of parties or of other persons designated pursuant to subsection (b)(6) hereof to testify on behalf of a party may be taken only at the following places:

A resident of the State may be required to attend for examination by deposition only in the county wherein he resides or is employed or transacts his business in person. A nonresident of the State may be required to attend for such examination only in the county wherein he resides or within 50 miles of the place of service except that a judge, as defined by subdivision (h) of this rule, may, upon motion showing good cause, require that a party who selected the county where the action is pending as the forum for the action or an officer, director or managing agent of such a party, or a person designated pursuant to subsection (b)(6) hereof to testify on behalf of such a party present himself for the taking of his deposition in the county where the action is pending. The judge upon granting the motion may make any other orders allowed by Rule 26(c) with respect thereto, including orders with respect to the expenses of the deponent.

(2)        Leave of court is not required for the taking of a deposition by plaintiff if the notice (i) states that the person to be examined is about to go out of the county where the action is pending and more than 100 miles from the place of trial, or is about to go out of the United States, or is bound on a voyage to sea, and will be unavailable for examination unless his deposition is taken before expiration of the 30-day period, and (ii) sets forth facts to support the statement. The plaintiff's attorney shall sign the notice, and his signature constitutes a certification by him that to the best of his knowledge, information, and belief the statement and supporting facts are true. The sanctions provided by Rule 11 are applicable to the certification.

If a party shows that when he was served with notice under this subsection (b)(2) he was unable through the exercise of diligence to obtain counsel to represent him at the taking of the deposition, the deposition may not be used against him.

(3)        The court may for cause shown enlarge or shorten the time for taking the deposition.

(4)        Unless the court orders otherwise, testimony at a deposition may be recorded by sound recording, sound-and-visual, or stenographic means. If the testimony is to be taken by other means in addition to or in lieu of stenographic means, the notice shall state the methods by which it shall be taken and shall state whether a stenographer will be present at the deposition. In the case of a deposition taken by stenographic means, the party that provides for the stenographer shall provide for the transcribing of the testimony taken. If the deposition is by sound recording only, the party noticing the deposition shall provide for the transcribing of the testimony taken. If the deposition is by sound-and-visual means, the appearance or demeanor of deponents or attorneys shall not be distorted through camera techniques. Regardless of the method stated in the notice, any party or the deponent may have the testimony recorded by stenographic means.

(5)        A party deponent, deponents who are officers, directors or managing agents of parties and other persons designated pursuant to subsection (b)(6) hereof to testify on behalf of a party may not be served with a subpoena duces tecum, but the notice to a party for the deposition of such a deponent may be accompanied by a request made in compliance with Rule 34 for the production of documents and tangible things at the taking of the deposition. The procedure of Rule 34, except as to time for response, shall apply to the request. When a notice to take such a deposition is accompanied by a request made in compliance with Rule 34 the notice and the request must be served at least 15 days earlier than would otherwise be required by Rule 30(b)(1), and any objections to such a request must be served at least seven days prior to the taking of the deposition.

(6)        A party may in his notice and in a subpoena name as the deponent a public or private corporation or a partnership or association or governmental agency and describe with reasonable particularity the matters on which examination is requested. In that event, the organization so named shall designate one or more officers, directors, or managing agents, or other persons who consent to testify on its behalf, and may set forth, for each person designated, the matters on which he will testify. A subpoena shall advise a nonparty organization of its duty to make such a designation. It shall not be necessary to serve a subpoena on an organization which is a party, but the notice, served on a party without an accompanying subpoena shall clearly advise such of its duty to make the required designation. The persons so designated shall testify as to matters known or reasonably available to the organization. This subsection (b)(6) does not preclude taking a deposition by any other procedure authorized in these rules.

(7)        The parties may stipulate in writing or the court may upon motion order that a deposition be taken by telephone. For the purposes of this rule and Rules 28(a), 37(a)(1) and 45(d), a deposition taken by telephone is taken in the district and the place where the deponent is to answer questions propounded to him.

(c)        Examination and cross-examination; record of examination; oath; objections. - Examination and cross-examination of witnesses may proceed as permitted at the trial under the provisions of Rule 43(b). The person before whom the deposition is to be taken shall put the deponent on oath and shall personally, or by someone acting under his direction and in his presence, record the testimony of the deponent. The testimony shall be taken stenographically or recorded by any other means ordered in accordance with subsection (b)(4) of this rule. If requested by one of the parties, the testimony shall be transcribed.

All objections made at the time of the examination to the qualifications of the person before whom the deposition is taken, or to the manner of taking it, or to the evidence presented, or to the conduct of any party, and any other objection to the proceedings, shall be noted upon the deposition by the person before whom the deposition is taken. Subject to any limitations imposed by orders entered pursuant to Rule 26(c) or 30(d), evidence objected to shall be taken subject to the objections. In lieu of participating in the oral examination, parties may serve written questions in a sealed envelope on the party who served the notice of taking the deposition, and he shall transmit them to the person before whom the deposition is to be taken who shall open them at the deposition, propound them to the witness and record the answers verbatim.

(d)       Motion to terminate or limit examination. - At any time during the taking of the deposition, on motion of a party or of the deponent and upon a showing that the examination is being conducted in bad faith or in such manner as unreasonably to annoy, embarrass, or oppress the deponent or party, a judge of the court in which the action is pending or any judge in the county where the deposition is being taken may order before whom the examination is being taken to cease forthwith from taking the deposition, or may limit the scope and manner of the taking of the deposition as provided in Rule 26(c). If the order made terminates the examination, it shall be resumed thereafter only upon the order of a judge of the court in which the action is pending. Upon demand of the objecting party or deponent, the taking of the deposition shall be suspended for the time necessary to make a motion for an order. The provisions of Rule 37(a)(4) apply to the award of expenses incurred in relation to the motion.

(e)        Submission to deponent; changes; signing. - The sound-and-visual recording, or the transcript of it, if any, the transcript of the sound recording, or the transcript of a deposition taken by stenographic means, shall be submitted to the deponent for examination and shall be reviewed by the deponent, unless such examination and review are waived by the deponent and by the parties. If there are changes in form or substance, the deponent shall sign a statement reciting such changes and the reasons given by the deponent for making them. The person administering the oath shall indicate in the certificate prescribed by subdivision (f)(1) whether any review was requested and, if so, shall append any changes made by the deponent. The certificate shall then be signed by the deponent, unless the parties by stipulation waive the signing or the deponent is ill or cannot be found or refuses to sign. If the certificate is not signed by the deponent within 30 days of its submission to him, the person before whom the deposition was taken shall sign the certificate and state on the certificate the fact of the waiver or of the illness or absence of the deponent or the fact of the refusal or failure to sign together with the reason, if any, given therefor; and the deposition may then be used as fully as though the certificate were signed unless on a motion to suppress under Rule 32(d)(4) the court holds that the reasons given for the refusal to sign require rejection of the deposition in whole or in part.

(f)        Certification by person administering the oath; exhibits; copies. -

(1)        The person administering the oath shall certify that the deponent was duly sworn by him and that the deposition is a true record of the testimony given by the deponent. This certificate shall be in writing and accompany the sound-and-visual or sound recording or transcript of the deposition. He shall then place the deposition in an envelope or package endorsed with the title of the action and marked "Deposition of (here insert name of witness)" and shall personally deliver it or mail it by first class mail to the party taking the deposition or his attorney who shall preserve it as the court's copy.

Documents and things produced for inspection during the examination of the deponent shall, upon the request of a party, be marked for identification and annexed to and returned with the deposition, and may be inspected and copied by any party, except that (i) the person producing the materials may substitute copies to be marked for identification, if he affords to all parties fair opportunity to verify the copies by comparison with the originals, and (ii) if the person producing the materials requests their return, the person before whom the deposition is taken shall mark them, give each party an opportunity to inspect and copy them, and return them to the person producing them, and the materials may then be used in the manner as if annexed to and returned with the deposition. Any party may move for an order that the original be annexed to and returned with the deposition to the court, pending final disposition of the case.

(2)        Upon payment of reasonable charges therefor, the person administering the oath shall furnish a copy of the deposition to any party or to the deponent.

(3)        Repealed by Session Laws 2005-138, s. 3, effective October 1, 2005.

(g)        Failure to attend or to serve subpoena; expenses. -

(1)        If the party giving the notice of the taking of a deposition fails to attend and proceed therewith and another party attends in person or by attorney pursuant to the notice, the judge may order the party giving the notice to pay to such other party the reasonable expenses incurred by him and his attorney in attending, including reasonable attorney's fees.

(2)        If the party giving the notice of the taking of a deposition of a witness fails to serve a subpoena upon him and the witness because of such failure does not attend, and if another party attends in person or by attorney because he expects the deposition of that witness to be taken, the judge may order the party giving the notice to pay to such other party the reasonable expenses incurred by him and his attorney in attending, including reasonable attorney's fees.

(h)        Judge; definition. -

(1)        In respect to actions in the superior court, a judge of the court in which the action is pending shall, for the purposes of this rule, and Rule 26, Rule 31, Rule 33, Rule 34, Rule 35, Rule 36 and Rule 37, be a superior court judge who has jurisdiction pursuant to G.S. 7A-47.1 or G.S. 7A-48 in that county.

(2)        In respect to actions in the district court, a judge of the court in which the action is pending shall, for the purposes of this rule, Rule 26, Rule 31, Rule 33, Rule 34, Rule 35, Rule 36 and Rule 37, be the chief district judge or any judge designated by him pursuant to G.S. 7A-192.

(3)        In respect to actions in either the superior court or the district court, a judge of the court in the county where the deposition is being taken shall, for the purposes of this rule, be a superior court judge who has jurisdiction pursuant to G.S. 7A-47.1 or G.S. 7A-48 in that county, or the chief judge of the district court or any judge designated by him pursuant to G.S. 7A-192. (1967, c. 954, s. 1; 1973, c. 828, s. 1; c. 1126, ss. 1, 2; 1975, c. 762, s. 2; 1977, c. 769; 1983, c. 201, s. 2; c. 801, ss. 1, 2; 1987 (Reg. Sess., 1988), c. 1037, s. 42; 1995, c. 353, ss. 1-3; 1995 (Reg. Sess., 1996), c. 742, s. 4; 2005-138, s. 3.)

 

Rule 31. Depositions upon written questions.

(a)        Serving questions; notice. - After commencement of the action, any party may take the testimony of any person, including a party, by deposition upon written questions. The attendance of witnesses may be compelled by the use of subpoena as provided in Rule 45 provided that no subpoena need be served on a deponent who is a party or an officer, director or managing agent of a party, provided the party has been served with notice pursuant to this rule. Such a deposition shall be taken in the county where the witness resides or is employed or transacts his business in person unless the witness agrees that it may be taken elsewhere. The deposition of a person confined in prison or of a patient receiving in-patient care in or confined to an institution or hospital for the mentally ill or mentally handicapped may be taken only by leave of court on such terms as the court prescribes.

A party desiring to take a deposition upon written questions shall serve them upon every other party with a notice stating (i) the name and address of the person who is to answer them, if known, and if the name is not known, a general description sufficient to identify him or the particular class or group to which he belongs, and (ii) the name or descriptive title and address of the officer before whom the deposition is to be taken. A deposition upon written questions may be taken of a public or private corporation or a partnership or association or governmental agency in accordance with the provisions of Rule 30(b)(6).

Within 30 days after the notice and written questions are served, a party may serve cross questions upon all other parties. Within 10 days after being served with cross questions, a party may serve redirect questions upon all other parties. Within 10 days after being served with redirect questions, a party may serve recross questions upon all other parties. The court may for cause shown enlarge or shorten the time.

(b)        Person to take responses and prepare record. - A copy of the notice and copies of all questions served shall be delivered by the party taking the deposition to the person designated in the notice to take the deposition, who shall proceed promptly, in the manner provided by Rule 30(c), (e), and (f), to take the testimony of the deponent in response to the questions and to prepare, certify, and mail the deposition, attaching thereto the copy of the notice and the questions received by him.

(c)        Repealed by Session Laws 2005-138, s. 4, effective October 1, 2005. (1967, c. 954, s. 1; 1975, c. 762, s. 2; 2005-138, s. 4.)

 

Rule 32. Use of depositions in court proceedings.

(a)        Use of depositions. - At the trial or upon the hearing of a motion or an interlocutory proceeding or upon a hearing before a referee, any part or all of a deposition, so far as admissible under the rules of evidence applied as though the witness were then present and testifying, may be used against any party who was present or represented at the taking of the deposition or who had reasonable notice thereof, in accordance with any of the following provisions:

(1)        Any deposition may be used by any party for the purpose of contradicting or impeaching the testimony of deponent as a witness.

(2)        The deposition of a person called as a witness may also be used as substantive evidence by any party adverse to the party who called the deponent as a witness and it may be used by the party calling deponent as a witness as substantive evidence of such facts stated in the deposition as are in conflict with or inconsistent with the testimony of deponent as a witness.

(3)        The deposition of a party or of any one who at the time of taking the deposition was an officer, director, or managing agent, or a person designated under Rule 30(b)(6) or 31(a) to testify on behalf of a public or private corporation, partnership or association or governmental agency which is a party may be used by an adverse party for any purpose, whether or not the deponent testifies at the trial or hearing.

(4)        The deposition of a witness, whether or not a party, may be used by any party for any purpose if the court finds: that the witness is dead; or that the witness is at a greater distance than 100 miles from the place of trial or hearing, or is out of the United States, unless it appears that the absence of the witness was procured by the party offering the deposition; or that the witness is unable to attend or testify because of age, illness, infirmity, or imprisonment; or that the party offering the deposition has been unable to procure the attendance of the witness by subpoena; or upon application and notice, that such exceptional circumstances exist as to make it desirable, in the interest of justice and with due regard to the importance of presenting testimony of witnesses orally in open court, to allow the deposition to be used; or the witness is an expert witness whose testimony has been procured by videotape as provided for under Rule 30(b)(4).

(5)        If only part of a deposition is offered in evidence by a party, an adverse party may require him to introduce any other part which is relevant to the part introduced, and any party may introduce any other parts.

            Substitution of parties pursuant to Rule 25 does not affect the right to use depositions previously taken; and, when an action in any court of the United States or of any state has been dismissed and another action involving the same subject matter is afterward brought between the same parties or their representatives or successors in interest, all depositions lawfully taken in the former action and duly prepared, certified, and delivered in accordance with Rule 30 may be used in the latter as if originally taken therefor.

(b)        Objections to admissibility. - Subject to the provisions of Rules 28(b) and subsection (d)(3) of this rule, objection may be made at the trial or hearing to receiving in evidence any deposition or part thereof for any reason which would require the exclusion of the evidence if the witness were then present and testifying.

(c)        Effect of taking or using depositions. - A party does not make a person his own witness for any purpose by taking his deposition. The introduction in evidence of the deposition or any part thereof for any purpose other than that of contradicting or impeaching the deponent makes the deponent the witness of the party introducing the deposition, but this shall not apply to the use by an adverse party of a deposition under subsection (a)(2) or (a)(3) of this rule. At the trial or hearing any party may rebut any relevant evidence contained in a deposition whether introduced by him or by any other party.

(d)       Effect of errors and irregularities in depositions. -

(1)        As to Notice. - All errors and irregularities in the notice for taking a deposition are waived unless written objection is promptly served upon the party giving the notice.

(2)        As to Disqualification of Person before Whom Taken. - Objection to taking a deposition because of disqualification of the person before whom it is to be taken is waived unless made before the taking of the deposition begins or as soon thereafter as the disqualification becomes known or could be discovered with reasonable diligence.

(3)        As to Taking of Deposition. -

a.         Objections to the competency of a witness or to the competency, relevancy, or materiality of testimony are not waived by failure to make them before or during the taking of the deposition, unless the ground of the objection is one which might have been obviated or removed if presented at that time.

b.         Errors and irregularities occurring at the oral examination in the manner of taking the deposition, in the form of the questions or answers, in the oath or affirmation, or in the conduct of parties, and errors of any kind which might be obviated, removed, or cured if promptly presented, are waived unless seasonable objection thereto is made at the taking of the deposition.

c.         Objections to the form of written questions submitted under Rule 31 are waived unless served in writing upon the party propounding them within the time allowed for serving the succeeding cross or other questions and within five days after service of the last questions authorized.

(4)        As to Completion and Return of Deposition. - Errors and irregularities in the manner in which the testimony is transcribed or the deposition is prepared, signed, certified, sealed, indorsed, transmitted, or otherwise dealt with by the person taking the deposition under Rules 30 and 31 are waived unless a motion to suppress the deposition or some part thereof is made with reasonable promptness after such defeat is, or with due diligence might have been, ascertained. (1967, c. 954, s. 1; 1975, c. 762, s. 2; 1977, c. 984; 1981, c. 599, s. 2; 2005-138, ss. 5, 6.)

 

Rule 33. Interrogatories to parties.

(a)        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.

A party may direct no more than 50 interrogatories, in one or more sets, to any other party, except upon leave granted by the Court for good cause shown or by agreement of the other party. Interrogatory parts and subparts shall be counted as separate interrogatories for purposes of this rule.

There shall be sufficient space following each interrogatory in which the respondent may state the response. The respondent shall: (1) state the response in the space provided, using additional pages if necessary; or (2) restate the interrogatory to be followed by the response.

Each interrogatory shall be answered separately and fully in writing under oath, unless it is objected to, in which event the reasons for objection shall be stated in lieu of an answer. An objection to an interrogatory shall be made by stating the objection and the reason therefor either in the space following the interrogatory or following the restated interrogatory. 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 the defendant. The court may allow a shorter or longer time. The party submitting the interrogatories may move for an order under Rule 37(a) with respect to any objection to or other failure to answer an interrogatory.

(b)        Scope; use at trial. - Interrogatories may relate to any matters which can be inquired into under Rule 26(b), and the answers may be used to the extent permitted by the rules of evidence.

An interrogatory otherwise proper is not necessarily objectionable merely because an answer to the interrogatory involves an opinion or contention that relates to fact or the application of law to fact, but the court may order that such an interrogatory need not be answered until after designated discovery has been completed or until a pretrial conference or other later time.

(c)        Option to produce business records. - Where the answer to an interrogatory may be derived or ascertained from the business records, including electronically stored information, of the party upon whom the interrogatory has been served or from an examination, audit or inspection of such business records, or from a compilation, abstract or summary based thereon, and the burden of deriving or ascertaining the answer is substantially the same for the party serving the interrogatory as for the party served, it is a sufficient answer to such interrogatory to specify the records from which the answer may be derived or ascertained and to afford to the party serving the interrogatory reasonable opportunity to examine, audit or inspect such records and to make copies, compilations, abstracts or summaries. A specification shall be in sufficient detail to permit the interrogating party to locate and to identify, as readily as can the party served, the records from which the answer may be ascertained.  (1967, c. 954, s. 1; 1971, c. 1156, s. 4.5; 1975, c. 99; c. 762, s. 2; 1987, c. 73; c. 613, s. 1; 2011-199, s. 3(c).)

 

Rule 34. Production of documents, electronically stored information, and things; entry upon land for inspection and other purposes.

(a)        Scope. - Any party may serve on any other party a request (i) to produce and permit the party making the request, or someone acting on that party's behalf, to inspect and copy, test, or sample any designated documents, electronically stored information, or tangible things which constitute or contain matters within the scope of Rule 26(b) and which are in the possession, custody or control of the party upon whom the request is served; or (ii) to permit entry upon designated land or other property in the possession or control of the party upon whom the request is served for the purpose of inspection and measuring, surveying, photographing, testing, or sampling the property or any designated object or operation thereon, within the scope of Rule 26(b).

(b)        Procedure. - The request 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. The request shall set forth the items to be inspected either by individual item or by category, and describe each item and category with reasonable particularity. The request shall specify a reasonable time, place, and manner of making the inspection and performing the related acts. The request may specify the form or forms in which electronically stored information is to be produced.

The party upon whom the request is served shall serve a written response within 30 days after the service of the request, except that a defendant may serve a response within 45 days after service of the summons and complaint upon that defendant. The court may allow a shorter or longer time. The response shall state, with respect to each item or category, that inspection and related activities will be permitted as requested, unless the request is objected to, in which event the reasons for objection shall be stated. If objection is made to part of an item or category, the part shall be specified. In addition to other bases for objection, the response may state an objection to production of electronically stored information from sources that the party identifies as not reasonably accessible because of undue burden or cost. The response may also state an objection to a requested form for producing electronically stored information. If the responding party objects to a requested form, or if no form is specified in the request, the party must state the form or forms it intends to use. The party submitting the request may move for an order under Rule 37(a) with respect to any objection to or other failure to respond to the request or any part thereof, or any failure to permit inspection as requested.

Unless otherwise stipulated by the parties or ordered by the court, the following procedures apply to producing documents or electronically stored information:

(1)        A party must produce documents as they are kept in the usual course of business or must organize and label them to correspond to the categories in the request;

(2)        If a request does not specify a form for producing the electronically stored information, a party must produce it in a reasonably usable form or forms; and

(3)        A party need not produce the same electronically stored information in more than one form.

(b1)      Form of response. - There shall be sufficient space following each request in which the respondent may state the response. The respondent shall: (1) state the response in the space provided, using additional pages if necessary; or (2) restate the request to be followed by the response. An objection to a request shall be made by stating the objection and the reason therefor either in the space following the request or following the restated request.

(c)        Persons not parties. - This rule does not preclude an independent action against a person not a party for production of documents and things and permission to enter upon land.  (1967, c. 954, s. 1; 1969, c. 895, s. 8; 1973, c. 923, s. 1; 1975, c. 762, s. 2; 1987, c. 613, s. 2; 2011-199, s. 4.)

 

Rule 35. Physical and mental examination of persons.

(a)        Order for examination. - When the mental or physical condition (including the blood group) of a party, or of an agent or a person in the custody or under the legal control of a party, is in controversy, a judge of the court in which the action is pending as defined by Rule 30(h) may order the party to submit to a physical or mental examination by a physician or to produce for examination his agent or the person in his custody or legal control. The order may be made only on motion for good cause shown and upon notice to the person to be examined and to all parties and shall specify the time, place, manner, conditions, and scope of the examination and the person or persons by whom it is to be made.

(b)        Report of examining physician. -

(1)        If requested by the party against whom an order is made under Rule 35(a) or the person examined, the party causing the examination to be made shall deliver to him a copy of a detailed written report of the examining physician setting out his findings, including results of all tests made, diagnoses and conclusions, together with like reports of all  earlier examinations of the same condition. After such request and delivery the party causing the examination shall be entitled upon request to receive from the party against whom the order is made a like report of any examination, previously or thereafter made, of the same condition, unless, in the case of a report of examination of a person not a party, the party shows that he is unable to obtain it. The court on motion may make an order against a party requiring delivery of a report on such terms as are just, and if a physician fails or refuses to make a report the court may exclude his testimony if offered at the trial.

(2)        By requesting and obtaining a report of the examination so ordered or by taking the deposition of the examiner, the party examined waives any privilege he may have in that action or any other involving the same controversy, regarding the testimony of every other person who has examined or may thereafter examine him in respect of the same mental or physical condition.

(3)        This subsection applies to examinations made by agreement of the parties, unless the agreement expressly provides otherwise. This subsection does not preclude discovery of a report of an examining physician or the taking of a deposition of the physician in accordance with the provisions of any other rule. (1967, c. 954, s. 1; 1975, c. 762, s. 2.)

 

Rule 36. Requests for admission; effect of admission.

 

(a)        Request for admission. - A party may serve upon any other party a written request for the admission, for purposes of the pending action only, of the truth of any matters within the scope of Rule 26(b) set forth in the request that relate to statements or opinions of fact or of the application of law to fact, including the genuineness of any documents described in the request. Copies of documents shall be served with the request unless they have been or are otherwise furnished or made available for inspection and copying. The request 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. If the request is served with service of the summons and complaint, the summons shall so state.

Each matter of which an admission is requested shall be separately set forth. The matter is admitted unless, within 30 days after service of the request, or within such shorter or longer time as the court may allow, the party to whom the request is directed serves upon the party requesting the admission a written answer or objection addressed to the matter, signed by the party or by his attorney, but, unless the court shortens the time, a defendant shall not be required to serve answers or objections before the expiration of 60 days after service of the summons and complaint upon him. If objection is made, the reasons therefor shall be stated. The answer shall specifically deny the matter or set forth in detail the reasons why the answering party cannot truthfully admit or deny the matter. A denial shall fairly meet the substance of the requested admission, and when good faith requires that a party qualify his answer or deny only a part of the matter of which an admission is requested, he shall specify so much of it as is true and qualify or deny the remainder. An answering party may not give lack of information or knowledge as a reason for failure to admit or deny unless he states that he has made reasonable inquiry and that the information known or readily obtainable by him is insufficient to enable him to admit or deny. A party who considers that a matter of which an admission has been requested presents a genuine issue for trial may not, on that ground alone, object to the request; he may, subject to the provisions of Rule 37(c), deny the matter or set forth reasons why he cannot admit or deny it.

There shall be sufficient space following each request in which the respondent may state the response.  The respondent shall:

(1)        State the response in the space provided, using additional pages if necessary; or

(2)        Restate the request to be followed by the response.  An objection to a request shall be made by stating the objection and the reason therefor either in the space following the request or following the restated request.

The party who has requested the admissions may move to determine the sufficiency of the answers or objections. Unless the court determines that an objection is justified, it shall order that an answer be served. If the court determines that an answer does not comply with the requirements of this rule, it may order either that the matter is admitted or that an amended answer be served. The court may, in lieu of these orders, determine that final disposition of the request be made at a pretrial conference or at a designated time prior to trial. The provisions of Rule 37(a)(4) apply to the award of expenses incurred in relation to the motion.

(b)        Effect of admission. - Any matter admitted under this rule is conclusively established unless the court on motion permits withdrawal or amendment of the admission. Subject to the provisions of Rule 16 governing amendment of a pretrial order, the court may permit withdrawal or amendment when the presentation of the merits of the action will be subserved thereby and the party who obtained the admission fails to satisfy the court that withdrawal or amendment will prejudice him in maintaining his action or defense on the merits. Any admission made by a party under this rule is for the purpose of pending action only and is not an admission by him for any other purpose nor may it be used against him in any other proceeding. (1967, c. 954, s. 1; 1975, c. 762, s. 2; 1981, c. 384, ss. 1, 2; 1987, c. 613, s. 3.)

 

Rule 37. Failure to make discovery; sanctions.

(a)        Motion for order compelling discovery. - A party, upon reasonable notice to other parties and all persons affected thereby, may apply for an order compelling discovery as follows:

(1)        Appropriate Court. - An application for an order to a party or a deponent who is not a party may be made to a judge of the court in which the action is pending, or, on matters relating to a deposition where the deposition is being taken in this State, to a judge of the court in the county where the deposition is being taken, as defined by Rule 30(h).

(2)        Motion. - If a deponent fails to answer a question propounded or submitted under Rules 30 or 31, or a corporation or other entity fails to make a designation under Rule 30(b)(6) or 31(a), or a party fails to answer an interrogatory submitted under Rule 33, or if a party, in response to a request for inspection submitted under Rule 34, fails to respond that inspection will be permitted as requested or fails to permit inspection as requested, the discovering party may move for an order compelling an answer, or a designation, or an order compelling inspection in accordance with the request. The motion must include a certification that the movant has in good faith conferred or attempted to confer with the person or party failing to make the discovery in an effort to secure the information or material without court action. When taking a deposition on oral examination, the proponent of the question shall complete the examination on all other matters before the examination is adjourned, in order to apply for an order. If the motion is based upon an objection to production of electronically stored information from sources the objecting party identified as not reasonably accessible because of undue burden or cost, the objecting party has the burden of showing that the basis for the objection exists.

      If the court denies the motion in whole or in part, it may make such protective order as it would have been empowered to make on a motion made pursuant to Rule 26(c).

(3)        Evasive or Incomplete Answer. - For purposes of this subdivision an evasive or incomplete answer is to be treated as a failure to answer.

(4)        Award of Expenses of Motion. - If the motion is granted, the court shall, after opportunity for hearing, require the party or deponent whose conduct necessitated the motion or the party advising such conduct or both of them to pay to the moving party the reasonable expenses incurred in obtaining the order, including attorney's fees, unless the court finds that the opposition to the motion was substantially justified or that other circumstances make an award of expenses unjust.

      If the motion is denied, the court shall, after opportunity for hearing, require the moving party to pay to the party or deponent who opposed the motion the reasonable expenses incurred in opposing the motion, including attorney's fees, unless the court finds that the making of the motion was substantially justified or that other circumstances make an award of expenses unjust.

      If the motion is granted in part and denied in part, the court may apportion the reasonable expenses incurred in relation to the motion among the parties and persons in a just manner.

(b)        Failure to comply with order. -

(1)        Sanctions by Court in County Where Deposition Is Taken. - If a deponent fails to be sworn or to answer a question after being directed to do so by a judge of the court in the county in which the deposition is being taken, the failure may be considered a contempt of that court.

(2)        Sanctions by Court in Which Action Is Pending. - If a party or an officer, director, or managing agent of a party or a person designated under Rule 30(b)(6) or 31(a) to testify on behalf of a party fails to obey an order to provide or permit discovery, including an order made under section (a) of this rule or Rule 35, or if a party fails to obey an order entered under Rule 26(f) a judge of the court in which the action is pending may make such orders in regard to the failure as are just, and among others the following:

a.         An order that the matters regarding which the order was made or any other designated facts shall be taken to be established for the purposes of the action in accordance with the claim of the party obtaining the order;

b.         An order refusing to allow the disobedient party to support or oppose designated claims or defenses, or prohibiting the party from introducing designated matters in evidence;

c.         An order striking out pleadings or parts thereof, or staying further proceedings until the order is obeyed, or dismissing the action or proceeding or any part thereof, or rendering a judgment by default against the disobedient party;

d.         In lieu of any of the foregoing orders or in addition thereto, an order treating as a contempt of court the failure to obey any orders except an order to submit to a physical or mental examination;

e.         Where a party has failed to comply with an order under Rule 35(a) requiring the party to produce another for examination, such orders as are listed in subdivisions a, b, and c of this subsection, unless the party failing to comply shows that the party is unable to produce such person for examination.

      In lieu of any of the foregoing orders or in addition thereto, the court shall require the party failing to obey the order to pay the reasonable expenses, including attorney's fees, caused by the failure, unless the court finds that the failure was substantially justified or that other circumstances make an award of expenses unjust.

(b1)      Failure to provide electronically stored information. - Absent exceptional circumstances, a court may not impose sanctions under these rules on a party for failing to provide electronically stored information lost as a result of routine, good-faith operation of an electronic information system.

(c)        Expenses on failure to admit. - If a party fails to admit the genuineness of any document or the truth of any matter as requested under Rule 36, and if the party requesting the admissions thereafter proves the genuineness of the document or the truth of the matter, the requesting party may apply to the court for an order requiring the other party to pay to him or her the reasonable expenses incurred in making that proof, including reasonable attorney's fees. The court shall make the order unless it finds that (i) the request was held objectionable pursuant to Rule 36(a), or (ii) the admission sought was of no substantial importance, or (iii) the party failing to admit had reasonable ground to believe that he or she might prevail on the matter, or (iv) there was other good reason for the failure to admit.

(d)       Failure of party to attend at own deposition or serve answers to interrogatories or respond to request for inspection. - If a party or an officer, director, or managing agent of a party or a person designated under Rule 30(b)(6) or 31(a) to testify on behalf of a party fails (i) to appear before the person who is to take the deposition, after being served with a proper notice, or (ii) to serve answers or objections to interrogatories submitted under Rule 33, after proper service of the interrogatories, or (iii) to serve a written response to a request for inspection submitted under Rule 34, after proper service of the request, the court in which the action is pending on motion may make such orders in regard to the failure as are just, and among others it may take any action authorized under subdivisions a, b, and c of subsection (b)(2) of this rule. In lieu of any order or in addition thereto, the court shall require the party failing to act to pay the reasonable expenses, including attorney's fees, caused by the failure, unless the court finds that the failure was substantially justified or that other circumstances make an award of expenses unjust.

The failure to act described in this section may not be excused on the ground that the discovery sought is objectionable unless the party failing to act has applied for a protective order as provided by Rule 26(c).

(e),       (f) Reserved for future codification purposes.

(g)        Failure to participate in the framing of a discovery plan. - If a party or the party's attorney fails to participate in good faith in the framing of a discovery plan by agreement as is required by Rule 26(f), the court may, after opportunity for hearing, require such party or the party's attorney to pay to any other party the reasonable expenses, including attorney's fees, caused by the failure.  (1967, c. 954, s. 1; 1973, c. 827, s. 1; 1975, c. 762, s. 2; 1985, c. 603, ss. 5-7; 2001-379, s. 5; 2011-199, s. 5.)