Thursday, November 19, 2020

A Primer on Responding to Requests For Admissions

In the case of Loughery v. Mid-Century Ins. Co., No. 2:19-CV-00383-WSH (W.D. Pa. Oct. 13, 2020 Hardy, J.), the court addressed a Defendant’s Motion to Strike Objections and have its Requests for Admissions addressed to the Plaintiff deemed admitted. The court granted the motion in part and denied it in part. 

In his Opinion, Judge W. Scott Hardy of the United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania provided the current status of the law pertaining to Requests for Admissions and responses thereto under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 36. 

In his Opinion, the court provided the excellent advice that the “substance of the requests themselves should contain statement of fact that are simple and concise so that they can be denied or admitted with minimal need for explanation or qualifications, and be answered yes, no, the answerer does not know, or a very simple and direct explanation given as to why an answer cannot be supplied such as when a privilege is invoked.” See Op. at p. 2. [citations omitted]. 

The court also noted that “[a] denial is a perfectly reasonable response when an issue in dispute is requested to be admitted.” See Op. at p. 2. [citations omitted]. 

The court additionally noted that “an answer may be qualified if the request posits a statement that contains some truth but conveys unwarranted and unfair inferences when standing alone and out of context of the whole truth". See Op. at p. 3. [citations omitted]. 

The court additionally stated that, “while the responding party may qualify a response when a request contains a statement that is only partially true, the responding party may not make ‘disingenuous, hair-splitting distinctions whose unarticulated goal is to unfairly burden an opposing party.’” See Op. at p. 3. [citations omitted]. 

The court additionally noted that, once a responding party answers or objects, the requesting party may seek a judicial determination as to the appropriateness of the responses produced by the answering party.

Judge Hardy noted that, in evaluating the answers and objections to a Request for Admission, the court should consider (1) whether the denial fairly meets the substance of the request; (2) whether good faith requires that the denial be qualified; and (3) whether any ‘qualification’ which has been supplied is a good faith qualification.” See Op. at p. 3 [citations omitted].

As noted, the court in this matter granted the Motion and denied the Motion in part.

Anyone wishing to review a copy of this decision may click this LINK.  The companion Order can be viewed HERE.

Source: “Digest of Recent Opinions.” Pennsylvania Law Weekly (Oct. 29, 2020).

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