BUSINESS LITIGATION & THE DISCOVERY PROCESS
March 9, 2022
If your business is being sued or you’re suing another business, a large chunk of both the time and costs involved will accrue from what is called the discovery process.
If Company A is suing Company B over a breach of contract, both sides will seek information that they can use during trial. The methods for seeking this information range from requesting documents to requiring the other side to answer a series of questions in writing to taking depositions under oath.
The California Courts sum it up this way: Discovery can be very expensive and time-consuming. In most civil cases the costs of discovery make up almost all the costs. It takes a lot of time for lawyers and their staffs to write up questions, review the responses, and argue in court about whether the other side did not respond to everything they should have. And it takes a lot of time to ask for, collect, and review the sometimes thousands of documents that may be involved in a case.
The necessity for discovery in a business lawsuit is something to consider before deciding on taking matters to court. If you’re considering a lawsuit or already involved in one in or around the Greater San Francisco Bay Area, contact the Law Offices of David H. Schwartz, INC. Attorney David Schwartz has more than four decades of experience in business litigation and will aggressively represent you and your business throughout the litigation process.
What Is Discovery?
Discovery is the process of obtaining information pertinent to the lawsuit coming up before a court. It occurs before the trial actually begins, but does often involve the presiding judge. Discovery is carried out between the opposing sides and their attorneys, and the information obtained is not revealed to the court until the trial begins, and only then when it is pertinent to the case.
According to the California Courts, during discovery, you can:
Get witness statements informally
Get witness statements formally through taking a deposition under oath
Find out what the other side is going to say
Determine how good the other side’s case is
Determine how good your case is
Gather all the important information you need to present your case in court
Tools of the Discovery Process
Once you initiate a lawsuit, you have several discovery tools at your disposal, including:
Interrogatories. You can submit questions in writing to the other party that they must answer in writing and under oath. These questions are called interrogatories and must be answered within 30 days. The California Code of Civil Procedure limits the number of questions to 35.
Depositions. You can call in witnesses from the other side and even third-party witnesses to answer questions under oath. These depositions, as they are called, usually take place outside of a courtroom, and a court reporter is present to take down everything. Videotaping is also often employed. During the pandemic, depositions were also done remotely.
Requests for Documents. Each side can request particular documents, or even classes of documents, from the other side pertinent to the case.
Requests for Admissions. You can send a written request to the other party to admit or deny a set of facts. If the other side doesn’t respond, the facts in the request are deemed to be true. For example, “Is it true your CEO threatened Employee A to prevent that employee from testifying?”
Protection of Privileged Information
None of the above tools can be used to obtain what are considered confidential conversations. In other words, anything shared orally or in writing between attorney and client, husband and wife, doctor and patient, or religious adviser and advisee is privileged and considered off limits.
How a Business Litigation Attorney Can Help
If you’re in a situation in which you’re considering filing a lawsuit against another business, you need to reach out to an experienced business litigation attorney, who can assess the situation and advise you of the best options going forward.
If you’re already in the midst of being sued or suing another business, you’re going to need strong counsel and representation. Attorney David Schwartz can lead you through the discovery process and every subsequent phase of litigation.
The Law Offices of David H. Schwartz, INC proudly serves individuals and businesses in the Greater San Francisco Bay Area, including San Jose, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Oakland, and Alameda County. Call immediately for an initial consultation.