What is a Motion to Compel? – Discovery Law Explained

After a personal injury accident, the ensuing legal process can be a lengthy and complicated ordeal. In the early stages of what is known as the discovery process, there is an exchange of information and evidence from the two opposing parties.  Before the trial even begins, disputes can occur during the discovery process, however. If one party is uncooperative with a request for information, the opposing party may file a motion to compel. What does motion to compel mean and how does the process work? If you find yourself entangled in the legal process, read further for an overview of what a motion to compel entails.

What is a motion to compel?

A motion to compel asks the court to enforce a request for information relevant to a case. Here is a general sequence of events leading up to the filing of a motion to compel:

  1. The lawsuit officially begins when the Plaintiff initiates a civil action against the Defendant.
  2. Discovery requests: parties submit requests for evidence, documents, and other relevant information from the opposition. Each party is required to respond to requests by a specified deadline.
  3. One of the parties does not cooperate, refusing to answer requests for discovery appropriately, or fails to respond by the deadline.
  4. “Meet and confer”: an informal attempt is made to resolve disputes about the discovery request.
  5. The requesting party files a motion to compel discovery responses if the opposing party continues to deny the discovery request.

How are motions filed?

To file a motion for order compelling discovery, you’ll usually need to prepare the following (depending on the local court’s rules):  

  • Motion: A request to the court to issue an order to compel discovery. 
  • Points and Authorities: Supporting documentation for the motion detailing the submitted request for discovery, the opposing side’s failure to comply, and an explanation of why the discovery is relevant to the case. 
  • Notice of hearing: A written notice provided to the opposing side informing that the motion to compel has been filed with the court, including the date and time of Motion day.

After preparing the documentation, the originals are then submitted to the court. The opposing side will receive copies of the documents as well.

About compelling discovery

Discovery is a key step in the legal process, allowing each party to request specific information from the other party. Each side reviews propounded discovery, using it to build their case. If one side neglects to respond to requests for discovery by the deadline, the requesting party may choose to file a motion to compel discovery. Other situations may warrant a motion to compel, including incomplete responses, skipped questions, or an outright refusal to answer. Before a party resorts to filing a motion to compel, the court often expects the requesting side provides a “good faith effort” to obtain a response from the opposition. This effort, commonly referred to as a “meet and confer,” can be an in-person meeting, but may sometimes also take form in a written notice. If the opposition requests a reasonable extension of time, the requesting party would be expected to permit this, “in good faith.”

Different categories of “discovery”

Each party will propound discovery relevant to the case from the opposing side. There are different categories of discovery, which include:

  1. Requests for Production of Documents: These include specific documents or tangible items (as in video or audio recordings, bank statements, tax documents, letters, emails, etc.).
  2. Deposition: An in-person interview under oath occurring outside of court. 
  3. Interrogatories: Written questions sent to the other party. All responses are written and are under oath. 
  4. Request for Admissions: A written request for specific facts to be provided. Again, all responses are written and provided under oath. 
  5. Subpoena: A court summons requiring a witness to appear for deposition or court or for a person or entity to produce documents.

Possible outcomes following a motion to compel discovery

On Motion day, both sides present their case before the court:

  1. The requesting party tells the judge why the requested Discovery is pertinent to the case. They demonstrate that the “good faith” attempt was made to resolve the issue before filing the motion to produce.
  2. The opposing side presents the rationale for any objections to the discovery request.

The judge will either deny the motion to compel, order the opposition to provide the discovery by a deadline, or will grant in part and deny in part the motion, and will only require some of the discovery to be provided.  Other sanctions may also be applied, including payment of attorney’s fees or monetary fines.  If the opposition continues to disregard the court order to compel, the requesting party may submit a second “motion to dismiss for failure to comply with the court’s order to provide discovery.” If you need professional and trustworthy advice to navigate the legal process, don’t hesitate to contact Las Vegas personal injury attorneys at Valiente Mott. We offer a free consultation for any personal injury matters.Our dedicated team of legal experts at Valiente Mott will handle your case with excellence, efficiency, and care. Contact us today to get your free consultation!

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