Judges have been saying it for years, and their tolerance for deaf ears is ebbing: Throw away the boilerplate. You could object that a discovery request is overbroad or unduly burdensome, and maybe you’d be right. But if you make scant effort to explain why you are right, you might as well not object at all.
The Southern District of New York again illustrates the point. In Fischer v. Forrest, 14 Civ. 1304/1307 (S.D.N.Y., Feb. 18, 2017), the plaintiff requested the production of almost a decade of emails, letters, and marketing materials. In its responses, the defendant asserted boilerplate objections. Among other things, the defendant objected “to the extent that [the request] is overly broad and unduly burdensome.” The court ruled that those objections did not comply with Rule 34:
[The objection] that the requests are “overly broad and unduly burdensome” is meaningless boilerplate. Why is it burdensome? How is it overly broad? This language tells the Court nothing.
The court ordered the defendant to conform its responses and objections to the requirements of Rule 34. At the same time, the court pointed out that the rules and decisions requiring specificity have been published for years. With that in mind, the court announced that “from now on in cases before this Court, any discovery response that does not comply with Rule 34’s requirement to state objections with specificity (and to clearly indicate whether responsive material is being withheld on the basis of the objection) will be deemed a waiver of all objections (except as to privilege).” [Emphasis added.]
Rule 33 (Interrogatories to Parties) also requires specificity when making objections. Whether you are responding to interrogatories or document requests, take a few tips from Fischer v. Forrest: