Rule 4005. Written Interrogatories to a Party.
(a) Subject to the limitations provided by Rule 4011, 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 similar entity or a partnership or association, by any officer or agent, who shall furnish such information as is available to the party. Interrogatories may be served upon any party at the time of service of the original process or at any time thereafter. Interrogatories which are to be served prior to service of the complaint shall be limited to the purpose of preparing a complaint and shall contain a brief statement of the nature of the cause of action. Interrogatories shall be prepared in such fashion that sufficient space is provided immediately after each interrogatory or subsection thereof for insertion of the answer or objection.
Rule 440 requires the party serving interrogatories upon any other party to serve a copy upon every party to the action.
Interrogatories that generally require the responding party to state the basis of particular claims, defenses or contentions made in pleadings or other documents should be used sparingly and, if used, should be designed to target claims, defenses or contentions that the propounding attorney reasonably suspects may be the proper subjects of early dismissal or resolution or, alternatively, to identify and to narrow the scope of claims, defenses and contentions made where the scope is unclear.
See Rule 4003.8 governing pre-complaint discovery.
The subject matter governed by former Rule 4005(b) has been transferred to Rule 4006(a).
(c) Interrogatories may relate to any matters which can be inquired into under Rules 4003.1 through 4003.5 inclusive and the answers may be used to the same extent as provided in Rule 4020 for the use of the deposition of a party. Interrogatories may be served after a deposition has been taken, and a deposition may be taken after interrogatories have been answered, but the court, on motion of the party interrogated, may make such protective order as justice requires. The number of interrogatories or of sets of interrogatories to be served may be limited as justice requires to protect the party from unreasonable annoyance, embarrassment, oppression, burden or expense.
The amendments to Rule 4005 make a number of stylistic changes, and three important changes of substance.
First, the word adverse has been deleted to permit interrogatories to be addressed to any other party to the action, whether or not adverse to the inquiring party. This is the same change which was made in Fed. R. Civ.P. 33 in 1970. The amendment clarifies the right to file interrogatories to additional defendants or co-defendants. Some lower court decisions held that additional defendants were not adverse parties and that interrogatories must be addressed to them as witnesses. Similarly, an additional defendant could not be compelled to respond to requests for admission under Rule 4014 since that likewise was restricted to adverse parties.
In a marked departure from the prior practice, amended Rules 4005 and 4006 require that the interrogatories and the answers thereto be contained in one document, with the answer immediately following the interrogatory to which it is responsive. Rule 4005 requires the inquiring party to leave sufficient space after each interrogatory for insertion of the answer. The original and two copies are served upon the answering party. The original is not filed until the answers have been inserted and the document signed and verified as provided by Rule 4006. It is recognized that in some cases it will be difficult to estimate the amount of space required for an answer. Rule 4006 provides that the answering party may continue his answer to an individual interrogatory on a supplemental sheet, identifying the number of the interrogatory to which it is responsive. Of course, the answering party may desire, as a matter of style, to retype the page rather than attach a supplemental sheet.
The time restriction in the former Rule, requiring leave of court if the interrogatories are to be served within 20 days of the commencement of the action, has been eliminated. Interrogatories may be filed with the complaint or writ or at any time thereafter.
Finally, the last sentence of subdivision (c), which does not appear in Fed. R. Civ.P. 33(b), permits the court to order a limitation upon the number of interrogatories or sets of interrogatories as justice requires to protect a party from unreasonable annoyance, expense, embarrassment or oppression. It is adapted from prior Rule 4005(c). Suggestions that the Rule specifically fix the number of interrogatories which can be submitted without leave of court was considered and rejected in favor of a more flexible limitation.
Civil Discovery Standard No. 8 of the American Bar Association (2004) establishes a guideline for the use of contention interrogatories. This standard has been added as a note to Rule 4003.1(c) governing discovery of opinions and contentions and as the second paragraph to the present note to Rule 4005(a) governing written interrogatories to a party.
The rationale for the proposal is succinctly set forth in the Comment to Civil Discovery Standard No. 8:
* * * Contention interrogatories, like all forms of discovery, can be susceptible to abuse. Among other things, they can be used as an attempt to tie up the opposing party rather than to obtain discovery. The legitimate purpose of contention interrogatories is to narrow the issues for trial, not to force the opposing side to marshal all its evidence on paper. * * *
The potential for overreaching is particularly present when interrogatories seeking the detailed underpinnings of the opposing partys allegations are served early in the case. Although, when used with discretion, interrogatories served near the outset of the case can be useful in narrowing the issues to define the scope of necessary discovery, contention interrogatories ordinarily are more appropriate after the bulk of discovery has already taken place. At that point, the party on whom the interrogatories are served should have the information necessary to give specific, useful responses. [Citations omitted.]
The provisions of this Rule 4005 amended November 20, 1978, effective April 16, 1979, 8 Pa.B. 3551; amended June 16, 1994, effective September 1, 1994, 24 Pa.B. 3217; amended September 20, 2007, effective November 1, 2007, 37 Pa.B. 5374; amended April 8, 2008, effective July 1, 2008, 38 Pa.B. 1814. Immediately preceding text appears at serial pages (330306) to (330307).
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