Evidence – Discovery – Louisiana
Note: This summary is not intended to be an all inclusive summary of discovery law in Louisiana, but does include basic and other information.
Discovery: A procedure designed to allow disclosure of information between Plaintiffs and Defendants. Written questions, oral questioning, document production and admissions requests are generally allowed. Discovery was designed to to prevent trial by ambush.
Interrogatories: Written questions from Plaintiff to Defendant, or from Defendant to Plaintiff. The questions are mailed to the Plaintiff, Defendant or the attorney for response in writing. The answers or responses are usually due between 20-30 days.
Deposition: A procedure where verbal questions are asked a Plaintiff or Defendant for immediate response. Depositions are usually recorded by a court reporter, who swears the person to tell the truth before questioning begins.
Production of Documents: The method of obtaining documents from the other party relevant to the case such as all documents a party intends to introduce at trial.
Requests for Admissions: Written questions where you request the other party to admit or deny some relevant fact.
Objections: Objections may be made to all discovery questions if the questions are not relevant, or likely to lead to the discovery of relevant evidence.
Civil Procedure Rules: Virtually all states have adopted a version of civil procedure rules which include rules dealing with discovery.
Louisiana Code of Civil Procedure
The Louisiana discovery rules are contained in the Louisiana Code of Civil Procedure, Article 1420 through Article 1437. The discovery rules contained in the Code also apply in divorce actions.
Law Summary: The Louisiana Code of Civil Procedure provides that a discovery request made a party represented by an attorney must be signed by at least one attorney of record using his/her individual name. The attorney’s address must also be listed.
The entire rule provides:
A. Every request for discovery, or response or objection thereto, made by a party represented by an attorney shall be signed by at least one attorney of record in his individual name, whose address shall be stated. A party who is not represented by an attorney shall sign the request, response, or objection and state his address.
B. The signature of an attorney or party constitutes a certification by him that he has read the request, response, or objection and that to the best of his knowledge, information, and belief formed after reasonable inquiry the request, response, or objection is:
(1) Consistent with all the rules of discovery and is warranted by existing law or a good faith argument for the extension, modification, or reversal of existing law;
(2) Not interposed for any improper purpose, such as to harass or to cause unnecessary or needless increase in the cost of litigation; and
(3) Not unreasonable, unduly burdensome, or expensive, given the needs of the case, the discovery already had in the case, the amount in controversy, and the importance of the issues at stake in the litigation.
C. If a request, response, or objection is not signed, it shall be stricken unless promptly signed after the omission is called to the attention of the person whose signature is required. A party shall not be obligated to take any action with respect to the request, response, or objection until it is signed.
D. If, upon motion of any party or upon its own motion, the court determines that a certification has been made in violation of the provisions of this Article, the court shall impose upon the person who made the certification or the represented party, or both, an appropriate sanction which may include an order to pay to the other party or parties the amount of the reasonable expenses incurred because of the filing of the request, response, or objection, including a reasonable attorney’s fee.
E. A sanction authorized in Paragraph D shall be imposed only after a hearing at which any party or his counsel may present any evidence or argument relevant to the issue of imposition of the sanction. Article 1420
Discovery Methods: Parties may obtain discovery by one or more of the following methods: depositions upon oral examination or written questions; written interrogatories; production of documents or things or permission to enter upon land or other property, for inspection and other purposes; physical and mental examinations; request for release of medical records; and requests for admission. Unless the court orders otherwise under Article 1426, the frequency of use of these methods is not limited. Article 1421
Scope: Parties may obtain discovery regarding any matter, not privileged, which is relevant to the subject matter involved in the pending action, whether it relates to the claim or defense of the party seeking discovery or to the claim or defense of any other party, including the existence, description, nature, custody, condition, and location of any books, documents, or other tangible things and the identity and location of persons having knowledge of any discoverable matter. It is not ground for objection that the information sought will be inadmissible at the trial if the information sought appears reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence. Article 1422
Experts: (1)(a) A party may through interrogatories or by deposition require any other party to identify each person whom the other party expects to call as an expert witness at trial, to state the subject matter on which the expert is expected to testify, and to state the substance of the facts to which the expert is expected to testify. (b) Upon motion, the court may order further discovery by other means, subject to such restrictions as to scope and such provisions, pursuant to Paragraph (3) of this Article, concerning fees and expenses as the court may deem appropriate.
(2) A party may discover facts known by an expert who has been retained or specially employed by another party in anticipation of litigation or preparation for trial and who is not expected to be called as a witness at trial, only as provided in Article 1465 or upon a showing of exceptional circumstances under which it is impracticable for the party seeking discovery to obtain facts on the same subject by other means.
(3) Unless manifest injustice would result, the court shall require that the party seeking discovery pay the expert a reasonable fee for time spent in responding to discovery under Paragraphs (1)(a) and (2) of this Article; and with respect to discovery obtained under Paragraph (1)(a) of this Article the court may require, and with respect to discovery obtained under Paragraph (2) of this Article the court shall require, the party seeking discovery to pay the other party a fair portion of the fees and expenses reasonably incurred by the latter party in obtaining facts from the expert. Article 1425
Sequence and Timing of Discovery: Unless the court upon motion, for the convenience of parties and witnesses and in the interest of justice, orders otherwise, methods of discovery may be used in any sequence and the fact that a party is conducting discovery, whether by deposition or otherwise, shall not operate to delay any other party’s discovery. Article 1427
Supplementation of Responses: A party who has responded to a request for discovery with a response that was complete when made is under no duty to supplement his response to include information thereafter acquired, except as follows:
(1) A party is under a duty seasonably to supplement his response with respect to any question directly addressed to the identity and location of persons having knowledge of discoverable matters, and the identity of each person expected to be called as an expert witness at trial, the subject matter on which he is expected to testify, and the substance of his testimony.
(2) A party is under a duty seasonably to amend a prior response if he obtains information upon the basis of which he knows that the response was incorrect when made, or he knows that the response though correct when made is no longer true and the circumstances are such that a failure to amend the response is in substance a knowing concealment.
(3) A duty to supplement responses may be imposed by order of the court, agreement of the parties, or at any time prior to trial through new requests for supplementation of prior responses. Article 1428
Perpetuation of Testimony: A person who desires to perpetuate his own testimony or that of another person regarding any matter that may be cognizable in any court of this state may file a verified petition in a court in which the anticipated action might be brought. The petition shall be entitled in the name of the petitioner and shall show:
(1) That the petitioner expects to be a party to an action cognizable in a court of this state but is presently unable to bring it or cause it to be brought.
(2) The subject matter of the expected action and his interest therein.
(3) The facts which he desires to establish by the proposed testimony and his reasons for desiring to perpetuate it.
(4) The names or a description of the persons he expects will be adverse parties and their addresses so far as known.
(5) The names and addresses of the persons to be examined and the substance of the testimony which he expects to elicit from each, and shall ask for an order authorizing the petitioner to take the depositions of the persons to be examined named in the petition, for the purpose of perpetuating their testimony. Article 1429
The petitioner shall thereafter serve a notice upon each person named in the petition as an expected adverse party, together with a copy of the petition, stating that the petitioner will apply to the court, at a time and place named therein, for the order described in the petition. At least twenty days before the date of hearing the notice shall be served as provided in Article 1314; but if such service cannot with due diligence be made upon any expected adverse party named in the petition, the court may make such order as is just for service by publication or otherwise, and shall appoint, for persons not served in the manner provided in Article 1314, an attorney who shall represent them, and, in case they are not otherwise represented, shall cross examine the deponent. If any expected adverse party is a minor or incompetent the court shall appoint an attorney to represent him. Article 1430
Before Whom Depositions May Be Taken: A deposition shall be taken before an officer authorized to administer oaths, who is not an employee or attorney of any of the parties or otherwise interested in the outcome of the case.
For purposes of this Article, an employee includes a person who has a contractual relationship with a party litigant to provide shorthand reporting or other court reporting services and also includes a person employed part or full time under contract or otherwise by a person who has a contractual relationship with a party litigant to provide shorthand reporting or other court reporting services. A party litigant does not include federal, state, or local governments, and the subdivisions thereof, or parties in proper person. Article 1434
If the witness whose deposition is to be taken is found in another state, or in a territory, district, or foreign jurisdiction, the law of the place where the deposition is to be taken shall govern the compulsory process to require the appearance and testimony of witnesses, but otherwise the provisions of this Chapter or of R.S. 13:3823 shall be applicable to such a deposition. Article 1435
Stipulations: Unless the court orders otherwise and except as provided by Article 1425, the parties may by written stipulation provide that depositions may be taken before any person, at any time or place, upon any notice, and in any manner and when so taken may be used like other depositions, and modify the procedures provided by these rules for other methods of discovery.
A witness who is a resident of this state may be required to attend an examination to take his deposition only in the parish in which he resides or is employed or transacts his business in person, or at such other convenient place as may be fixed by order of court. A witness who is a nonresident of this state, but is temporarily in this state, may be required to attend an examination to take his deposition only in the parish where he is served with a subpoena or at such other convenient place as may be fixed by order of court. Article 1436
After commencement of the action, any party may take the testimony of any person, including a party, by deposition upon oral examination. Leave of court, granted with or without notice, must be obtained only if the plaintiff seeks to take a deposition prior to the expiration of fifteen days after service of citation upon any defendant, except that leave is not required if a defendant has served a notice of taking deposition or otherwise sought discovery, or if special notice is given as provided in Article 1439. The attendance of witnesses may be compelled by the use of subpoena as for witnesses in trials. The deposition of a person confined in prison may be taken only by leave of court on such terms as the court prescribes. Article 1437
Leave of court is not required for the taking of a deposition by plaintiff if the notice states that the person to be examined is about to go out of the state and will be unavailable for examination unless his deposition is taken before expiration of the fifteen-day period, and sets forth facts to support the statement. The plaintiff’s attorney shall sign the notice, and his signature constitutes a certification by him that to the best of his knowledge, information, and belief the statement and supporting facts are true. The sanctions provided by Articles 863 and 864 are applicable to the certification.
If a party shows that when he was served with notice under this Article he was unable through the exercise of diligence to obtain counsel to represent him at the taking of the deposition, the deposition may not be used against him. Article 1439
At any time during the taking of the deposition, on motion of a party or of the deponent and upon a showing that the examination is being conducted in bad faith or in such manner as unreasonably to annoy, embarrass, or oppress the deponent or party, the court in which the action is pending may order the officer conducting the examination to cease forthwith from taking the deposition, or may limit the scope and manner of the taking of the deposition as provided in Article 1426. If the order made terminates the examination, it shall be resumed thereafter only upon the order of the court. Upon demand of the objecting party or deponent, the taking of the deposition shall be suspended for the time necessary to make a motion for an order. The provisions of Article 1469 apply to the award of expenses incurred in relation to the motion. Article 1444
A. 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 a partnership or association or governmental agency, by any officer or agent, who shall furnish such information as is available to the party. Interrogatories may accompany the petition or be served after commencement of the action and without leave of court.
B. During an entire proceeding, written interrogatories served in accordance with Paragraph A shall not exceed thirty-five in number, including subparts, without leave of court. Additional interrogatories, not to exceed thirty-five in number including subparts, shall be allowed upon ex parte motion of any party. Thereafter, any party desiring to serve additional interrogatories shall file a written motion setting forth the proposed additional interrogatories and the reasons establishing good cause why they should be allowed to be filed. The court after contradictory hearing and for good cause shown may allow the requesting party to serve such additional interrogatories as the court deems appropriate. Local rules of court may provide a greater restriction on the number of written interrogatories. Article 1457
Each interrogatory shall be answered separately and fully in writing under oath, unless it is objected to, in which event the reasons for objection shall be stated in lieu of an answer. The answers are to be signed by the person making them. The party upon whom the interrogatories have been served shall serve a copy of the answers, and objections if any, within fifteen days after the service of the interrogatories, except that a defendant may serve answers or objections within thirty days after service of the petition upon that defendant and the state and its political subdivisions may serve a copy of the answers or objections within thirty days after service of the interrogatories. The court may allow a shorter or longer time. The party submitting the interrogatories may move for an order under Article 1469 with respect to any objection to or other failure to answer an interrogatory. Article 1458
Interrogatories may relate to any matters which can be inquired into under Articles 1422 through 1425, and the answers may be used at trial to the extent permitted by rules of evidence. Article 1459
Any party may serve on any other party a request (1) to produce and permit the party making the request, or someone acting on his behalf, to inspect and copy any designated documents including writings, drawings, graphs, charts, photographs, phono-records, and other data compilations from which information can be obtained, translated, if necessary, by the respondent through detection devices into reasonably usable form, or to inspect and copy, test, or sample any tangible things which constitute or contain matters within the scope of Articles 1422 through 1425 and which are in the possession, custody, or control of the party upon whom the request is served; or (2) to permit entry upon designated land or other property in the possession or control of the party upon whom the request is served for the purpose of inspection and measuring, surveying, photographing, testing, or sampling the property or any designated object or operation thereon, within the scope of Articles 1422 through 1425. Article 1461
A. The request under Article 1461 may, without leave of court, be served upon the plaintiff after commencement of the action and upon any other party with or after service of the petition upon that party. The request shall set forth the items to be inspected either by individual item or by category, and describe each item and category with reasonable particularity. The request shall specify a reasonable time, place, and manner of making the inspection and performing the related acts.
B. The party upon whom the request is served shall serve a written response within fifteen days after service of the request, except that a defendant may serve a response within thirty days after service of the petition upon that defendant. The court may allow a shorter or longer time. With respect to each item or category, the response shall state that inspection and related activities will be permitted as requested, unless the request is objected to, in which event the reasons for objection shall be stated. If objection is made to part of an item or category, the part shall be specified. The party submitting the request may move for an order under Article 1469 with respect to any objection to or other failure to respond to the request, or any part thereof, or any failure to permit inspection as requested.
C. A party who produces documents for inspection shall produce them as they are kept in the usual course of business or shall organize and label them to correspond with the categories of the request.
A. Articles 1461 and 1462 do not preclude an independent action against a person not a party for production of documents and things and permission to enter upon land.
B. In addition, a party may have a subpoena duces tecum served on a person not a party directing that person to produce documents and things for inspection and copying or to permit entry onto and inspection of land, provided that a reasonably accurate description of the things to be produced, inspected, or copied is given. A reasonable notice of the intended inspection, specifying date, time, and place shall be served on all other parties and shall specify that the other parties may attend and participate in the inspection and copying of the things to be produced. The rules applicable to depositions and subpoenas duces tecum issued and served in connection with depositions shall apply except to the extent inconsistent with this Paragraph. Article 1463
Physical and Mental Examinations of Persons
When the mental or physical condition of a party, or of a person in the custody or under the legal control of a party, is in controversy, the court in which the action is pending may order the party to submit to a physical or mental examination by a physician or to produce for examination the person in his custody or legal control, except as provided by law. In addition, the court may order the party to submit to an examination by a vocational rehabilitation expert or a licensed clinical psychologist who is not a physician, provided the party has given notice of intention to use such an expert. The order may be made only on motion for good cause shown and upon notice to the person to be examined and to all parties and shall specify the time, place, manner, conditions, and scope of the examination and the person or persons by whom it is to be made. Article 1464
A. If requested by the party against whom an order is made under Article 1464 or by the person examined, the party causing the examination to be made shall deliver to him a copy of a detailed written report of the examining physician setting out his findings, including results of all tests made, diagnoses, and conclusions, together with like reports of all earlier examinations of the same condition. After delivery the party causing the examination shall be entitled upon request to receive from the party against whom the order is made a like report of any examination, previously or thereafter made, of the same condition, unless, in the case of a report of examination of a person not a party, the party shows that he is unable to obtain it. The court on motion may make an order against a party requiring delivery of a report on such terms as are just, and if a physician fails or refuses to make a report the court may exclude his testimony if offered at the trial.
B. By requesting and obtaining a report of the examination so ordered or by taking the deposition of the examiner, the party examined waives any privilege he may have in that action or any other involving the same controversy, regarding the testimony of every other person who has examined or may thereafter examine him in respect of the same mental or physical condition.
C. This Article applies to examinations made by agreement of the parties, unless the agreement expressly provides otherwise. This Article does not preclude discovery of a report of an examining physician or the taking of a deposition of the physician in accordance with the provisions of any other rule. Article 1465
Requests for Admissions
A party may serve upon any other party a written request for the admission, for purposes of the pending action only, of the truth of any matters within the scope of Articles 1422 through 1425 set forth in the request or of the truth of any relevant matters of fact, including the genuineness of any documents described in the request. Copies of documents shall be served with the request unless they have been or are otherwise furnished or made available for inspection and copying. The request may, without leave of court, be served upon the plaintiff after commencement of the action and upon any other party with or after service of the petition upon that party. Article 1466
A party, upon reasonable notice to other parties and all persons affected thereby, may apply for an order compelling discovery as follows:
(1) An application for an order to a party or a deponent who is not a party may be made to the court in which the action is pending.
(2) If a deponent fails to answer a question propounded or submitted under Articles 1437 or 1448, or a corporation or other entity fails to make a designation under Articles 1442 or 1448, or a party fails to answer an interrogatory submitted under Article 1457, or if a party, in response to a request for inspection submitted under Article 1461, 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 Article 1426.
(3) For purposes of this Subdivision an evasive or incomplete answer is to be treated as a failure to answer.
(4) If the motion is granted, the court shall, after opportunity for hearing, require the party or deponent whose conduct necessitated the motion or the party or attorney advising such conduct or both of them to pay to the moving party the reasonable expenses incurred in obtaining the order, including attorney’s fees, unless the court finds that the opposition to the motion was substantially justified or that other circumstances make an award of expenses unjust.
If the motion is denied, the court shall, after opportunity for hearing, require the moving party or the attorney advising the motion or both of them to pay to the party or deponent who opposed the motion the reasonable expenses incurred in opposing the motion, including attorney’s fees, unless the court finds that the making of the motion was substantially justified or that other circumstances make an award of expenses unjust.
If the motion is granted in part and denied in part, the court may apportion the reasonable expenses incurred in relation to the motion among the parties and persons in a just manner. Article 1469
If a party or an officer, director, or managing agent of a party or a person designated under Articles 1442 or 1448 to testify on behalf of a party fails to obey an order to provide or permit discovery, including an order made under Article 1469 or Article 1464, the court in which the action is pending may make such orders in regard to the failure as are just, and among others the following:
(1) An order that the matters regarding which the order was made or any other designated facts shall be taken to be established for the purposes of the action in accordance with the claim of the party obtaining the order.
(2) An order refusing to allow the disobedient party to support or oppose designated claims or defenses, or prohibiting him from introducing designated matters in evidence.
(3) An order striking out pleadings or parts thereof, or staying further proceedings until the order is obeyed, or dismissing the action or proceeding or any part thereof, or rendering a judgment by default against the disobedient party.
(4) In lieu of any of the foregoing orders or in addition thereto, an order treating as a contempt of court the failure to obey any orders except an order to submit to a physical or mental examination.
(5) Where a party has failed to comply with an order under Article 1464, requiring him to produce another for examination, such orders as are listed in Paragraphs (1), (2), and (3) of this Article, unless the party failing to comply shows that he is unable to produce such person for examination.
In lieu of any of the foregoing orders or in addition thereto, the court shall require the party failing to obey the order or the attorney advising him or both to pay the reasonable expenses, including attorney’s fees, caused by the failure, unless the court finds that the failure was substantially justified or that other circumstances make an award of expenses unjust. Article 1471
Domestic Actions Discovery Notes
If you require extra time to respond to discovery, you should ask the other side for an extension in writing. It may also be necessary to enter an order granting the extension to protect your rights.
Discovery questions are limited in number so select the most important questions to ask the other side. Don’t waste your requests writing questions that you already know the answer to.