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Requests for Production of Documents for Civil Lawsuits in Colorado Courts
Requests for production of documents are part of the general discovery process and consist of requests served on an opposing party asking for documents in that party’s possession that are relevant to the lawsuit. Document requests are governed by Colorado Rule of Civil Procedure (“C.R.C.P.”) 34 and, generally speaking, each party is allowed to serve 20 document requests on each opposing party.
Under C.R.C.P. 34, a document production request must designate and describe what is being sought with sufficient particularity to enable the other party to determine what documents fall within the scope of the request. Document requests may specifically identify an individual document that is being sought or request an entire category of documents. An example of a document requests includes:
– Produce all accounting document of the business venture, including, but not limited to, general ledgers, cash receipts journals, cash disbursements journals, payroll journals, joint interest billing statements, loan documents, cancelled checks and remittance advises, synopsis books, bank statements, vouchers and voucher registers, balance sheets, income statements, statements of change in financial position, statements of retained earnings, spreadsheets.
Objections for Requests for Productions of Documents
In general, there are not many objections that can be made to requests for production of documents. If the responding party is in possession of documents that are relevant to the claims at issue in the lawsuit then she will likely have to produce them. Typically, the only circumstances where document production request may be objected to is where the request places a large or unnecessary burden on the responding party or where the document request is so broad. Examples of objections to requests for production of documents include:
– Burdensome and Expensive: the request for production of documents requires the responding party to engage in unduly burdensome or expensive efforts to obtain the requested documents. Importantly, the mere fact that producing documents would be burdensome or expensive does not permit a party to avoid responding to a document production request. Only under exceptional circumstances may a party avoid producing documents based on the production being burdensome or expensive.
– Overbroad: the request for production of documents goes far beyond the issues being litigated in the lawsuit. Notably, however, information that is available during the discovery process is relatively broad. Indeed, as long as the information is potentially relevant or could lead to information that is potentially relevant in the lawsuit it will be discoverable information. Thus, overbroad objections are applicable only where the documents requested could have no bearing on the issues in the lawsuit whatsoever.
Additionally, while parties are required to turn over documents in their possession, parties are not required to synthesize information from those documents for the other side. Thus, a request for production of documents that also requests statistical analysis of those documents is improper. The responding party does have an obligation to produce the documents but has no obligation to statistically analyze the information in those documents for the other side. Requiring a party to do so would effectively be requiring a party to do the opposing side’s work and would be improper under the Colorado Rules of Civil Procedure.
General Principles for Responding to Requests for Production of Documents
In responding to document production requests, frequently the opposing side will produce a voluminous set that contains documents ranging from highly relevant to having minimal or no relevance at all. While this is not improper and, indeed, may be required under the rules of discovery since discovery disclosure requirements are broad, there are limits as to how document requests may be responded to.
In particular, the responding party may not conceal what documents are responsive to a request for by simply providing the requesting party a box or large file of documents and indicating that there are responsive documents somewhere in the box or file. In this type of scenario, the responding party may be required to specify which documents satisfy which request for production of documents such that the requesting party is not responsible for digging through all of a party’s business records to find relevant documents. State of Colorado v. Schmidt-Tiago Constr, 108 F.R.D. 731, 735 (D. Colo. 1984); Budget Rent-A-Car of Missouri, Inc. v. Hertz Corp., 55 F.R.D. 354, 357 (W.D. Mo. 1972).
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