Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Defendant's Use of Contention Interrogatories Upheld

In the case of Rogers v. Thomas, No. 2012-CV-1464 (C.P. Lacka. Co. Nov. 23, 2015 Nealon, J.), Judge Terrence R. Nealon upheld a defendant's right to serve and receive responses to "contention interrogatories" in a personal injury matter.

This personal injury case arose out of a shooting incident.  The Plaintiffs sued the shooter, the shooter's father, and the father's gun store business.

The Plaintiff filed an Amended Complaint with myriad allegations of liability.  During discovery, the defense filed "contention interrogatories" to which the Plaintiff objected and also provided general, non-specific responses.  The matter came before the court on a defense motion to compel.

In granting the motion to compel, the court noted that the contention interrogatories followed the defendant's efforts to secure information through more typical discovery requests.  The contention interrogatories were designed to elicit facts that the Plaintiff planned to prove at trial in support of the new allegations and theories of liability set forth in the Amended Complaint.  The contention interrogatories reference specific paragraphs and allegations in the Amended Complaint and sought discovery in support of these allegations.

Referring to the Explanatory Note to Pa.R.C.P. 4003.1, Judge Nealon noted that contention interrogatories typically follow standard discovery requests and are designed to narrow the issues for trial.  See Op. at p. 6-7.  The court noted that contention interrogatories are particularly warranted when a defendant is faced with circular or ambiguous allegations.

After finding that the Plaintiff's generic responses to the contention interrogatories and simple reference to documents and expert reports previously produced to be insufficient, the court granted the Defendant's motion to compel.

Anyone wishing to secure a copy of Judge Nealon's Opinion in Rogers v. Thomas may contact me at dancummins@comcast.net.




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