Responding to interrogatory requests seeking the identification of documents is a time-consuming and expensive process. These requests often are used to increase a party’s discovery burden, particularly in cases with already asymmetrical discovery burdens such as stockholder litigation.
In In re Appraisal of Jarden Corp., Consol. C.A. No. 12456-VCS (Del. Ch. Sept. 7, 2018), the court held that a party’s failure to identify documents in response to interrogatories was insufficient grounds to warrant striking the documents from the trial record when those documents were otherwise produced and relied on in pretrial discovery.
By way of background, petitioner stockholders, seeking a court appraisal of the fair value of their shares following a merger, moved to strike certain documents from the trial record because those documents were not identified by the respondent corporation in response to the petitioners’ interrogatories seeking the identification of “all documents” in broad categories related to the company’s financial projections. The petitioners only sought to strike 17 documents from the trial record, compared to the presumably thousands of documents that the respondent company produced in response to the petitioners’ discovery requests. The challenged documents all related to the company’s performance between the signing and closing of the merger, and presumably reflected a change in the company’s financial performance that undermined the petitioners’ proffered valuation. In response, the respondent argued that the challenged documents were produced in discovery and relied on by expert witnesses, and therefore the petitioners were well aware of the documents.