Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Ahn v. Kumho Tire USA (Cal. Ct. App. - Jan. 22, 2014)

This is why you don't just rest on your laurels even when plaintiff gives you awesome responses to interrogatories in which it admits that it has utterly no facts to support its case.  Because even if you follow up with a meet-and-confer letter that says you're going to "bind" them to those admissions, and thereafter move for summary judgment on the basis of their interrogatory answers, the case is by no means necessarily over.  Even if -- as here -- the trial court grants summary judgment on the ground that the plaintiff was "bound" to its initial answers.

Because the Court of Appeal may well reverse.

Parties can -- and often do -- amend their interrogatory answers.  Even if, as here, there was utterly no reason for the deficient answers in the first place.  Defendant can give it a shot and file a motion for summary judgment.  But if the plaintiff gets it together and, in response to that motion, prepares a new set of interrogatory answers that indeed creates a genuine issue of material fact, well, then, defendant's out of luck.  Summary judgment denied.

The practical pointer -- which the Court of Appeal doesn't give, but which I will -- is to follow up on great interrogatory answers with some RFAs that track the opposing party's answers.  Those are far more binding.  Good luck trying to get out of those.

Defendant here didn't adopt that approach.  And, as a result, is going to either have to settle or go to trial.  In a case that it might otherwise have gotten kicked forever.