What are discovery sanctions in California?

Let the punishment be equal with the offense.

-Cicero

Lots of discovery responses are garbage. What to do? Consider discovery sanctions. Here’s a brief primer.

First, you need to determine the statute allowing discovery sanctions. There are several. Each discovery method has its own sanction provision. For interrogatories, see CCP § 2030.090, CCP § 2030.290, CCP § 2030.300, and CCP § 2030.210. For requests for admission, see CCP § 2033.080, CCP § 2033.280, CCP § 2033.290, CCP § 2033.300, and CCP § 2033.420. And for requests for production, see CCP § 2031.060, CCP § 2031.300, CCP § 2031.310, and CCP § 2031.320.

Note that sanctions under CCP § 128.5 and CCP § 128.7 are inapplicable to discovery disputes.

CCP § 2023.010 sets forth a nonexclusive list of conduct representative of discovery abuse and thus justifying sanctions (e.g. persisting to obtain information beyond the scope of discovery, failing to respond to discovery, and making unmeritorious objections).

Discovery sanctions must be tailored and not be used as punishment. See Karlsson v. Ford Motor Co. (2006) 140 CA4th 1202.

Types of California discovery sanctions

Monetary sanctions are the most common type of California discovery sanctions. See CCP § 2023.030(a). Issue sanctions are another type of discovery sanctions. There, the court may order that certain facts are “taken as established.” See CCP § 2023.030(b). Evidence sanctions are another type and are similar to issue sanctions. Here, a party may be prohibited from introducing certain matters into evidence. See CCP § 2023.030(c). Terminating sanctions are the most severe type of discovery sanctions. There, the court may 1) strike pleadings; 2) stay proceedings; 3) dismiss an action; or 4) render a default judgment. Severe, indeed. See CCP § 2023.030(d). Finally, the court can impose a contempt sanction. See CCP § 2023.030(e). Courts should take an incremental approach, starting with monetary sanctions and ending with terminating sanctions.

How to get discovery sanctions in California?

File a motion noting CCP § 2023.040. State in the notice of motion the person, party, or attorney against whom sanctions are sought and specify the type of discovery sanctions sought. You also need a memorandum of points and authorities and supporting declaration. The motion may be filed separately or jointly with a motion to compel discovery responses.

There’s more to discuss, but this is a primer.

Have questions? Contact Me for a free consultation.

Evan Walker

Evan W. Walker is a La Jolla attorney who has practiced law since 2008. He has practiced law throughout California, Connecticut, and Louisiana.

Evan worked for and defended insurance companies during the first 7 years of his practice. Since 2015, he has represented people with personal injury and property damage claims and insurance disputes.

Evan’s practice is devoted to serious personal injury claims and catastrophic property damage claims. Areas of focus include security claims against bars and other businesses, government tort claims, fire and flood claims, and inverse condemnation. On behalf of clients, Evan has fought insurance firms, international companies, cities, bars, and casinos.

Evan regularly shares his expertise with other attorneys by teaching courses on insurance and inverse condemnation. He has taught several continuing legal education courses to Attorney Credits, a nationwide CLE company, and ProLawCLE, another nationwide CLE company. He also contributes to various podcasts and publications.

Associations:

  • Member, State Bar of California
  • Member, San Diego Bar Association
  • Member, Consumer Attorneys of California
  • Member, Consumer Attorneys of San Diego
  • Member, La Jolla Bar Association
  • Member, La Jolla Village Merchants Association
  • Member, San Diego Chamber of Commerce