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What is a Motion to Compel?


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Answered 2010-07-29 15:08:12

If you are involved in a lawsuit the opposing side is allowed to receive certain documents from you as part of the discovery process. The documents were probably already asked for in a Request for Production. A motion to compel is a motion to the court, which if granted will force you to produce the documents to the opposing counsel, which were asked for in the Request for Production.

AnswerA motion to compel may also apply to other forms of discovery, such as a motion to compel responses to interrogatories (written questions), a motion to compel attendance at a deposition, etc.

With regard to documents, state discovery laws may require the opponent receiving a document request to provide a "response" to your request for the production of documents. This "response" is to be distinguished from the actual production of the documents. You may have to bring a motion to compel a response if your request receives no response. If you receive some response but think it evasive, you might bring a motion to compel a further response. If you get a response, but the party refuses to produce documents it should produce in accordance with the response, your motion to compel is a motion to compel production.

If the court grants the motion to compel, and the party to whom/which the order is directed remains evasive or non-compliant, the other party may file a second motion to compel or a motion for sanctions. Depending upon the degree of noncompliance (or perhaps the attitude of the non-movant or the judge), the court has the power, within reason, to impose one or more categories of sanctions. These can range from yet another order compelling compliance (usually requiring compliance within a shorter time than the first order allowed), to attorney's fees, to deeming, for evidentiary purposes, that the material that would have been produced or stated in answers to interrogatories, was prejudicial to the non-compliant party. There is a great deal of discretion that is usually allowed the trial court judge in determining sanctions, but the sanctions must be commensurate to the violation.

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