I spend a lot of time responding to random questions from other lawyers. I’m going to start publishing some of the responses to the extent they are helpful to anyone else. The topic for today is the practical ramifications of requests for admission that are deemed to be admitted at trial. I will think of others to post as well.
Reader’s Question: The federal and many Civ Pro rules deem admissions admitted if not responded to within 30 days. Here is the scenario: the court rules the party was dilatory in responding and the admissions are deemed admitted. However, the party did respond to ROGS in time, as you expect some of the answers are clearly incompatible with deemed admitted admissions. Trial time — if your read into the record the answer to the admitted admission doesn’t the witness have the right to respond no that’s incorrect these admissions were deemed admitted by the court they do not reflect the facts accurately, or no that’s incorrect as I stated in my ROG answers the correct answer is . . . . or will the court not allow the witness to rebut the admitted admission even though a fact finder would see that the admitted admission is actually factually wrong (i.e. admission states that on the day the car you were driving was white however one that day you were driving your own car which was blue but the admission deemed admitted would “force” you to accede to it being white)?? Would the admitted admission be treated akin to a comment made during a depo and can be used during trial to question the veracity of the witness?
Fundamentally I’m wondering about the awkward reality of admissions deemed entered by failing to timely file a response and the fact that the deemed admissions are factually incorrect — would a court countenance allowing a case to be won or lost based on the dubious truth of admissions deemed admitted simply because the rules require the admission to be admitted.
My Response: I’ve never met anyone who has ever tried that case. Because either (1) the case settles because the admitting party panics or (2) the court lets the admitting party off the mat. But, fundamentally, the rule would have no meaning if the Defendant could do what you suggest. What would be the point, Judge, of having the rule if enforcement of it allowed Defendants to wiggle out by disagreeing with themselves elsewhere? You can’t create a contradiction in your own discovery responses and argue the one you like best. Therefore, the remedy should be the admitting party should be estopped from making any contention that contradicts the request for admission. That’s your argument.I have settled cases using failure to respond to RFA. Not 31 days kinda failing to respond, more of the letters of the “Hey, these things are going to be deemed admitted if you don’t answer and you still get no answer” variety. There is Maryland law that says in this case, enough is enough and they are deemed admitted. Good luck! – Ron Miller