What is an interrogatory?
An "interrogatory" is a written question from one party to the lawsuit to another party to the lawsuit (usually, the opposing party). For example, a plaintiff may send interrogatories to the defendant, and the defendant may send interrogatories to the plaintiff. Written interrogatories are one form of "discovery" in a lawsuit. Discovery is one way in which a party to a lawsuit discovers information from the opposing party that may be useful in the lawsuit – either in winning the lawsuit or defending against the lawsuit.
Read the Rule: Maryland Rule 3-421
Is there a time limit for sending interrogatories to the other party to the lawsuit?
Yes. The plaintiff may serve interrogatories on the defendant no later than 10 days after the date on which the clerk of the court mails notice to the plaintiff that the defendant has filed a notice of intention to defend. The defendant may serve interrogatories on the plaintiff no later than 10 days after the time for filing a notice of intention to defend.
Read the Rule: Maryland Rule 3-307
Is there a limit on the number of interrogatories that may be sent to another party to the lawsuit?
Yes, a party may send no more than 15 interrogatories to another party in the lawsuit. If there is more than one defendant, the plaintiff may send 15 interrogatories to each defendant. Similarly, if there is more than one plaintiff, the defendant may send 15 interrogatories to each plaintiff.
Are there sample interrogatories that I may use?
Yes, there are “Form Interrogatories” in the Appendix to the Maryland Rules, Volume 2. These Form Interrogatories are split into multiple subjects including general topics, domestic relations, motor vehicle torts, personal injury, product liability, and medical malpractice.
Form Interrogatories were developed for use in the Circuit Court, but may also be helpful in a case filed in the District Court. Remember, however, in the District Court, there is a maximum limit of 15 interrogatories. Also, remember, that the Form Interrogatories are samples only and may have to be revised to the specific case. A party does not have to use the Form Interrogatories and may draft his or her own interrogatories to use.
How do I serve the other party to the lawsuit the interrogatories?
A party may serve the other party with interrogatories by mailing them to the other party or by hand-delivery.
Is there a time limit for answering interrogatories?
Yes, a written response to the interrogatories must be served on the party sending the interrogatories within 15 days after service of the interrogatories. The written response may be served on the other party by mailing it to the other party or by hand-delivery.
Are interrogatories filed with the District Court?
No, but the party generating the interrogatories must file Notice with the court stating that interrogatories were served, the date and manner of service on the other party, and the name of the party served. Similarly, the party responding to the interrogatories must file Notice with the court stating that a response to the interrogatories was served, the date and manner of service on the other party, and the name of the party served.
How does a party answer interrogatories?
The response or answers to interrogatories must be in writing. The response must first state the interrogatory and then state the answer to the interrogatory or the grounds for refusing to answer the interrogatory. Each interrogatory must be answered separately. Generally, the answer to an interrogatory must include all information available to the party directly or through his or her agents, representatives, or attorneys. See below, “Does a party who is served with interrogatories have to respond to the interrogatories?” The response must be signed by the party making it and under oath. The Maryland Rules explain the forms of acceptable written oath.
Read the Rule: Maryland Rule 1-304
Also, a party has the option to produce business records in answering an interrogatory. If an answer to an interrogatory may be found in a business record belonging to the party (or under the control of the party) who is being asked to answer the interrogatory, the party may answer the interrogatory by identifying the business record and allowing the party asking the interrogatory to inspect and make a copy of the record.
If a party who has answered interrogatories later obtains additional information that is responsive to the interrogatories, the party is required to supplement his or her response to the interrogatories.
Does a party who is served with interrogatories have to respond to the interrogatories?
Generally yes, but maybe no. A party served with interrogatories may file with the court a motion for a protective order, asking the court to protect the party from annoyance, embarrassment, oppression, or undue burden or expense. The party filing the motion for protective order must serve the party who generated the interrogatories with a copy of the motion. The court may grant or deny the motion for protective order and will issue a written order to the parties. If the party does not obtain a protective order from the court and does not respond to interrogatories, the party generating the interrogatories may ask the court to impose sanctions on the party failing to respond to the interrogatories.
If a party does not respond to interrogatories, is there any way to make the party respond?
The party who generated interrogatories may file, with the court, a motion to compel answers to interrogatories if the party to whom the interrogatories were sent fails or refuses to respond to the interrogatories.
How may answers to interrogatories be used?
The answers to interrogatories may be used as evidence at trial or in a hearing by any party, if permitted by the court.