Maryland Courts do not like it when parties to a lawsuit fail to cooperate in discovery. So, what happens when you (or your attorney) have issued Interrogatories and a Request for Production of Documents to your party opponent, and your party opponent has failed to provide you with responses as required by the Maryland Rules? Or, what happens when you (or your attorney) have propounded proper discovery requests to your opposing party, but the Answers and/or Documents received from that party are insufficient?
When a party fails: (1) to attend a deposition; (2) to provide Answers to Interrogatories and/or Responses to a Request for Production of Documents as required by the Maryland Rules; or, (3) to provide sufficient discovery responses, the opposing party may file a Motion for Sanctions and/or a Motion to Compel Discovery pursuant to Maryland Rule 2-432.
Rule 2-432. Motions upon failure to provide discovery
(a) Immediate sanctions for certain failures of discovery. A discovering party may move for sanctions under Rule 2-433 (a), without first obtaining an order compelling discovery under section (b) of this Rule, if a party or any officer, director, or managing agent of a party or a person designated under Rule 2-412 (d) to testify on behalf of a party, fails to appear before the officer who is to take that person’s deposition, after proper notice, or if a party fails to serve a response to interrogatories under Rule 2-421 or to a request for production or inspection under Rule 2-422, after proper service. Any such failure may not be excused on the ground that the discovery sought is objectionable unless a protective order has been obtained under Rule 2-403.
(b) For order compelling discovery. (1) When Available. A discovering party, upon reasonable notice to other parties and all persons affected, may move for an order compelling discovery if
(A) there is a failure of discovery as described in section (a) of this Rule,
(B) a deponent fails to answer a question asked in an oral or written deposition,
(C) a corporation or other entity fails to make a designation under Rule 2-412 (d),
(D) a party fails to answer an interrogatory submitted under Rule 2-421,
(E) a party fails to comply with a request for production or inspection under Rule 2-422,
(F) a party fails to supplement a response under Rule 2-401 (e), or
(G) a nonparty deponent fails to produce tangible evidence without having filed written objection under Rule 2-510 (f).
(2) Contents of Motion. A motion for an order compelling discovery shall set forth: the question, interrogatory, or request; and the answer or objection; and the reasons why discovery should be compelled. Instead of setting forth the questions and the answers or objections from a deposition, the relevant part of the transcript may be attached to the motion. The motion need not set forth the set of interrogatories or requests when no response has been served. If the court denies the motion in whole or in part, it may enter any protective order it could have entered on a motion pursuant to Rule 2-403. For purposes of this section, an evasive or incomplete answer is to be treated as a failure to answer.
(c) By nonparty to compel production of statement. If a party fails to comply with a request of a nonparty made pursuant to Rule 2-402 (f) for production of a statement, the nonparty may move for an order compelling its production.
(d) Time for filing. A motion for an order compelling discovery or for sanctions shall be filed with reasonable promptness.
(e) Appropriate court. A motion for an order compelling discovery or for sanctions shall be filed with the court in which the action is pending, except that on matters relating to a deposition, the motion may be filed either with the court in which the action is pending or with the court in the county in which the deposition is being taken.
After filing a Rule-242 Motion, a court may enter an order compelling a party to supplement its discovery responses and/or it may enter an award of sanctions in favor of the moving party (the party who filed the Motion for Sanctions). The types of sanctions a party can obtain are prescribed by Maryland Rule 2-433 and will be discussed in a separate blog.