Discovery - Investigating your Case

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This page will help you understand the most important parts of discovery in your products liability case.

Interrogatories

Maybe the most useful tools in arsenal when conducting discovery are interrogatories. These are questions you draft for the opposing party that they are legally obligated to answer truthfully. Under oath, defendant’s counsel must answer completely and seasonably up to 30 of you questions within 28 days and update them as becomes necessary. Like in all cases, you want to use these to draw out the other party’s theory of the case, information, and helpful witnesses. With respect to products liability cases, here are some issues to focus on:

  • The extent to which the defendant designed, manufactured, or marketed the product in question?
  • When the defendant first designed, manufactured, or marketed the product in question?
  • When, if any, the defendant made alterations to the product in question and for what reason?
  • Any allegations that the product in question was unreasonably safe or contained inadequate warnings?
  • If the product in question was ever part of an incident similar to the one in the instant case?

For more information see Illinois Supreme Court Rule 213. Here are some sample interrogatories from Illinois products liability cases:

Depositions

Maybe the most well know of discovery phases to the general public, depositions afford you the change to interview the opposing party (via notice) or witnesses (via subpoena) for 3 hours for evidentiary or discovery reasons. Context is key here. Unlike the stale and formulaic nature of requests to admit and interrogatories, the confines of a deposition allow you to hammer down into the finer points of your products liability case and do not allow the interviewees to weasel out of questions. Hammer down into the finer points of scienter with respect to deficiencies, notice of prior accidents, and control. For more information, see Illinois Supreme Court Rule 202-207 and 210. Here are some sample depositions from products liability cases:

Requests to Admit

Requests to admit are similar in nature to interrogatories. These allow you to ask the defendant if certain facts are true or if certain items are genuine-up to 30 in all. After 28 days, the defendant must admit or deny. If time has expired before any request is answered, it is deemed admitted. Similarly to other discovery tools, for products liability cases it is important to use requests to admit to pull the defendant’s case theory out as well as any favorable evidence or testimony. For more information see Illinois Supreme Court Rule 216. See below for a model form to be used in Illinois products liability cases as well as a sample from an actual case:

Requests to Produce

Requests to produce are the formal process in which you compel the other party to give you documents, other tangible items, information, or access. Unless the defense can raise an objection based on privilege or relevance, it must produce the request in 28 days. In products liability cases, requests normally relate to product specifications, specification alterations, inter-office communications, and prior litigation to name a few. For more information see Illinois Supreme Court Rule 214. Click below for a model request to produce form for products liability cases but feel free to customize it to your particular circumstances:

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