Massachusetts litigants use a number of methods to gather evidence in preparation for trial. They include depositions, interrogatories, document requests, and site inspections. Each of these discovery methods has its own set of requirements and deadlines.
If a person is properly served with a legitimate discovery request and he or she ignores or refuses to answer it, the party seeking the discovery must file a motion in the appropriate court asking a judge to intervene.
Such motions are made according to Massachusetts Civil Procedure Rule 37 which authorizes judges to compel the recipient of a discovery request to provide an adequate answer.
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. When taking a deposition on oral examination, the proponent of the question may complete or adjourn the examination before he applies for an order. 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).
The same rule also allows the judge to award attorneys’ fees and other costs for the party who succeeds on the motion.
Should a party fail to comply with a discovery request despite a judge’s order, he or she may be held in contempt and pursuant to section (b)of Rule 37.
If a deponent fails to be sworn or to answer a question after being directed to do so by the court in the county or judicial district, as the case may be, in which the deposition is being taken the failure may be considered a contempt of that court.