Typically, when a party files a lawsuit there are many unknowns. In Nebraska specifically, there is a very liberal pleading regime. Nebraska Court Rules of Pleading in Civil Cases § 6-1108 requires only that a complaint be set out with a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief and a demand for relief. This is often referred to as “notice” pleading. When a lawsuit is filed against you or your business, you may have very little information. Discovery can be costly, but through these written discovery tactics, you may be able to save money and get a case dismissed against you quickly!
The process of “discovery” is where you and your attorney learn more about the facts an evidence of the case. You learn who the witnesses will be, what physical evidence exists, and you get to see the documents the other party possesses. Discovery consists of both written discovery and depositions. Written discovery rules in Nebraska allow for either party to serve 1) Interrogatories; 2) Requests for Admissions; and 3) Requests for the Production of Documents.
Requests for Admissions
Requests for Admissions are typically sent as a formality. When you send these requests, you’re simply asking the other party to admit or deny certain statements of fact. If the Requests for Admissions are not answered within 30 days, they are deemed admitted and, if you have sufficient information, you can file for summary judgment. This can be a very cost-effective way to get a judgment or dismissal without going to trial. Sometimes these Requests can be used to limit the issues the parties are fighting about.
Nebraska’s discovery rules allow for up to fifty interrogatories. These interrogatories are a series of questions set out to the opposing party in order to request personal information; information regarding potential witnesses; a description of events giving rise to the claims; along with any other questions that might be asked to obtain information in preparation for trial. Based on what you learn through interrogatories, you may want to take depositions, subpoena other evidence or testimony, or request further documents.
Requests for Production of Documents:
The Requests for Production of Documents are also a tool commonly used to evaluate the exposure a defendant might have or the strength of a plaintiff’s claim. The requests enable either party to request any documents that might exist with relation to any part of the case. Often these documents are introduced as exhibits at trial.
Parties must utilize the discovery process effectively in order to prepare for trial. Further, written discovery allows parties to evaluate whether their claim or defense will be successful, which can help determine whether settlement might be a better course of action.