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What Can I Expect in a Lawsuit? Part II: Discovery

In Part I of What Can I Expect in a Lawsuit?, our Columbus business litigation attorney discussed the pleading stages in a lawsuit. Part II of What Can I Expect in a Lawsuit? discusses the discovery phase of a lawsuit. In discovery, each party is permitted to gather information from the other parties in the lawsuit as well as from non-parties.


What is Discovery in a Lawsuit?

Discovery is a process in a lawsuit whereby the parties to the litigation can gather facts by requesting information from others. There are four primary methods of discovery used in a lawsuit. Depositions, requests for productions of documents, interrogatories, and requests for admissions.


At the outset of most cases, the court will issues a case schedule setting various deadlines for the case, including the trial dates as well as a discover cutoff date. Typically, discovery can be served at anytime in the lawsuit up until the discovery cutoff date. During this time, a party can use discovery to learn information from other parties in the lawsuit. However, only two out of four of the discovery methods are available when it comes to non-parties by use of a subpoena: depositions and requests for production of documents.


What to Expect in a Deposition?

Of all the discovery methods, depositions are the most dreadful for those on the receiving end. A deposition is formal testimony that is taken in person. The opposing attorney is permitted to sit the party down and ask a series of questions. The witness giving the statement, the deponent, is put under oath at the beginning of the deposition. The deposition can either be video recorded or recorded by a court stenographer. Depositions typically take place in an attorney’s office. This could be in your own attorney’s office or in an opposing attorney’s office.


Depositions often drag on for hours. It is not uncommon for a deposition to last the entire business day, with a brief break for lunch. Depositions can sometimes last for multiple business days, with the deponent coming back each day to continue the deposition. The part most frustrating for deponents is that almost any question is fair game in a deposition. While your Columbus commercial litigation lawyer will be present during the process, most objection are simply noted, and the deponent must still answer the question. During the deposition, the attorney will probe every aspect of the facts surrounding the case, hoping to find information vital to winning the case.


Requests for Production of Documents and Admissions

Requests for production of documents is exactly what it sounds like. Upon request, a party must produce documents relevant to the claims in the lawsuit. A non-party can also be required to produce relevant documents via a subpoena. Any document that is relevant is fair game, however, privileged material (such as communications between an attorney and client) are not required to be turned over. Further, a party can request a protective order if it is asked to turn over certain proprietary information.


Requests for admissions simply ask a party to admit or deny a statement. Requests for admissions are often used to verify the authenticity of documents and to confirm that certain facts are agreed upon.


Interrogatories

Interrogatories are simply written questions issued to another party in a litigation. Any relevant question concerning the litigation can be asked. This includes basic facts surrounding the case or questions about the location or existence of documents. However, interrogatories are typically limited. In an Ohio court, a party can serve up to forty written interrogatories on any other party. In federal court, a party is limited to twenty-five interrogatories. A party may request permission to serve additional interrogatories if necessary.


Other Methods of Discovery

While the four primary discovery methods are those most commonly used by business litigation attorneys in commercial disputes, other methods of discovery exist. This includes entering onto land to inspect property, requiring the opposing party to produce any tangible thing, and typically in personal injury cases, requiring a party to undergo a physical or mental examination.


Our Firm is Experienced in all Aspects of Civil Proceedings, Including Discovery

Our business litigation attorney in Columbus Ohio has guided clients through lawsuits in state and federal court, including discovery. This includes successfully using discovery to broker favorable settlements, win on summary judgment, or subsequently win at trial. If your business is involved in a lawsuit, contact Randol Law, LLC to learn more about legal representation.


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