Allison Harrison
May 12, 2023

Navigating the Maze of Litigation: Mastering Discovery in Ohio Lawsuits

Introduction to Discovery in Litigation

Discovery is a process where the parties to the lawsuit understand each other’s arguments better.

Understanding Discovery Tools: A Comprehensive Overview

Discovery is made up of Requests for Admissions, Request for Production of Documents, Interrogatories, and depositions. All parties to litigation are able to issue discovery to every other party in the litigation. If information is needed from a party not named in the litigation then a subpoena is issued to the party holding the information.

The Role of Ohio's Rules of Civil Procedure in Discovery

All parts of discovery are controlled by the Rules of Civil Procedure. These Rules outline how discovery must be served, how many interrogatories can be requested, and the minimum time period a party has to respond to discovery requests. In Ohio, discovery has to be served in an editable format (aka Word) and must allow a minimum of twenty-eight (28) days to respond. 

Requests for Admissions: A Closer Look

A Request for Admissions are questions that can be answered either Admit or Deny (aka yes or no questions). These questions can be very important. Under Civ. R. 36 If the questions are not responded to in 28 days (or longer if agreed by the parties) they are deemed admitted as fact in the lawsuit. If these facts are admitted, the other side can sometimes obtain a judgment solely based on these facts!

Navigating Document Requests: Strategies and Best Practices

Request for Production of Documents is just what it sounds like - a request for documents. Typically contracts, emails, text messages, and other records are requested. The scope and type of documents will depend heavily on the type of dispute at issue. Client’s first knee-jerk reaction is “I’m not looking for that” or “I am not producing that.” We hear this a lot. However, this information is key to building your case or defense. The worst information is the information that is not produced. Your attorney wants to know the good, the bad, and the ugly. Your attorney can work with and explain ugly parts of your case if they have time to adequately prepare. If you hide it from your attorney (and the other side) it usually comes back to hurt you even worse than producing it in the first place. 

Interrogatories Explained: More Than Yes or No

Interrogatories are questions that cannot be answered in a yes or no format - they require a sentence or two to respond. Questions that typically make up interrogatories are “what is the name, address, and telephone number of each person you intend to call as a witness.”  It requires production of information in the receiving party’s possession, custody, or control - it does not require the party to ask other people for information. 

The Paper Trail of Discovery: Organizing and Submitting Legal Documents

All of the above discoveries happen on paper. Typically the party responding will prepare everything and send it to their attorney who will organize, edit, and submit to the other party. Discovery is only between named parties to the lawsuit. If you need documents from parties not named in the lawsuit you would issue a subpoena. 

Depositions: The Dynamic Face-to-Face Component of Discovery

Depositions are the online “live” or “in-person” part of discovery. Typically, the deposition will include the deponent (the person being asked questions), an attorney for a party in the lawsuit, a court reporter, and possibly an attorney for the deponent. Depositions can happen in person or over video conferencing. The attorney who called the deposition will ask the deponent questions under oath. The court reporter will type everything all the parties say for the record. Named parties in the lawsuit as well as non-parties can be deposed. Once the deposition is completed the parties to the lawsuit can order a transcript from the court reporter (a written account of everything said). The transcript usually takes several weeks to complete unless rush processing is requested. Rush processing costs a premium.