In Back to Basics: Requests for Admission-Part I, we examined the proper scope of Requests for Admission ("RFAs") under Texas Rule of Civil Procedure, 198.1, which allows a party "to serve on another party ... written requests that the other party admit the truth of any matter within the scope of discovery, including statements of opinion or of fact or of the application of law to fact...." Assuming the responding party does not have a valid objection, the responding party must either admit or deny the request or explain in detail the reasons that the responding party cannot admit or deny the request. While Part I examined the proper scope of RFAs, Part II examines the proper responses and objections to RFAs.
Responding to Requests for Admission
Under Texas Rule of Civil procedure 198.2, once a party has been served with RFAs, within 30 to 50 days (depending on when the RFAs were served):
Unless the responding party states an objection or asserts a Privilege, the responding party must specifically admit or deny the request or explain in detail the reasons that the responding party cannot admit or deny the request. A response must fairly meet the substance of the request. The responding party may qualify an answer, or deny a request in part, only when good faith requires. Lack of information or knowledge is not a proper response unless the responding party states that a reasonable inquiry was made but that the information known or easily obtainable is insufficient to enable the responding party to admit or deny. An assertion that the request presents an issue for trial is not a proper response."
Thus, he basic RFA responses allowed under Rule 198.2 are simply and explicitly stated in the first sentence of the rule-admit, deny, or explain in detail why neither is possible.
Moreover, responding parties should not attempt to overly explain responses they feel might negatively affect their case unless good faith requires such an explanation. If good faith does not absolutely require additional explanation or qualifications, it would be unwise to respond evasively or attempt to qualify an answer in such a way as to obscure the response. If a response does not "fairly meet the substance of a request," under the Rules, a Judge may deem the answer admitted. In other words, the best practice is to keep RFA responses simple, just as the Texas Supreme Court intended.
Just as with all other types of written discovery, the responding party may object if there is a "good faith legal and factual basis" for the objection. However, extra caution should be used when objecting to RFAs because of the potential negative consequences if a court finds that an objection is frivolous-the Court may the objections, or worse, the request is deemed admitted under Rule 215.
Thus, when responding to RFAs, follow this rule of thumb: keep it simple. In order to avoid possibly severe negative consequences, a party responding to RFAs should admit, deny, or explain why neither is possible, but the party should not try to avoid the substance of the request or hide their response in unfounded objections lest the Court discard the objections and deem the response admitted.
See Tex. R. Civ. P. 198.2(b) (emphasis added).
See Tex. R. Civ. P. 215.
See Fireman's Fund Ins. Co. v. Commercial Standard Ins. Co., 490 S.W.2d 818 (Tex. 1972). (explaining that the purpose of RFAs is to simplify litigation by eliminating noncontroversial matters.)