Tennessee Changes Rule about Objections to Interrogatories and Kills “General Objections” Once and for All

January 22, 2020 K.O. Herston 0 Comments

On January 16, 2020, the Tennessee Supreme Court amended Rule 33, which governs interrogatories.

Effective July 1, 2020, Rule 33.01 will require answers to interrogatories to be

answered separately and fully in writing under oath, unless an objection is made to it or to a portion thereof, in which event the reasons and grounds for objection shall be stated with specificity in lieu of an answer for that portion to which an objection is made. An objection must clearly indicate whether responsive information is being withheld on the basis of that objection. The answers are to be signed by the person making them, and the objections signed by the attorney making them.

The new language that will go into effect on July 1 is in bold italics.

Tennessee general objections

The Advisory Commission Comments explains:

Rule 33.01 is amended to require that objections to interrogatories be stated with specificity. The amendment is intended to make clear that vague, generalized, or “boilerplate” objections are improper. Instead, objections should be stated as to the grounds for the objection, describing the reason(s) in a manner that will reasonably inform the adverse party as to what aspect of the interrogatory the objection pertains, thereby facilitating the resolution of discovery disputes without the need for judicial intervention.

In addition, the rule is amended to require that any objection or response under Rule 33 make clear whether information is actually being withheld pursuant to that objection, if any. A responding party may object to part of a request, but a party should answer any part of an interrogatory for which no objection is made, making clear which part is being answered.

This brings the procedure for answering interrogatories consistent with last year’s revisions to the rule governing responses to requests for production.

K.O.’s Comment: This makes sense. Interrogatory answers should be handled the same as responses to requests for production. To my surprise, I still see discovery responses that purport to be made subject to a laundry list of “general objections.” Victory in the war on general objections is near, but it isn’t over yet. Have you joined our army?

Source: In re Amendments to the Tennessee Rules of Civil Procedure (Tennessee Supreme Court, January 16, 2020).

Tennessee Changes Rule about Objections to Interrogatories and Kills “General Objections” Once and for All was last modified: January 21st, 2020 by K.O. Herston

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