San Francisco, CA asked in Real Estate Law and Civil Litigation for California

Q: What’s the maximum discovery sanctions one may request, as a pro per?

I requested formal discovery from opposing counsel. Opposing counsel failed to provide the Requests for Production of Documents and Tangible Things on or before the deadline. I am filing a motion to compel and would appreciate it if you would guide me as to what the maximum monetary limit in sanctions is for this type of situation.

Thank you kindly in advance.

1 Lawyer Answer
Joseph Franklin Klatt
Joseph Franklin Klatt
  • La Jolla, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: The maximum sanction that you can ask for is your attorneys fees and costs. If you are pro per, you have no attorneys fees to collect, so you will be limited to "costs." For you that probably means your $60 motion fee (presuming you paid one, if you have a fee waiver this is not recoverable), and any postage and copy costs you have for the motion. Discovery sanctions cannot exceed the amount you spent. They are compensatory, not punitive. Further, if a judge believes the other side acted with "substantial justification" she will not give any sanction.

Remember that you have to meet and confer prior to filing any motion. Also note that objections can be a valid discovery response. Just because you asked for something does not mean that it was a proper request or that they have to comply. They can just object, and then you can accept that, meet and confer about it and try to resolve the problem, and that failing, file a motion. Finally, consider that if you do file a motion, the other side can ask for sanctions with its opposition. If they are represented, then they /do/ have attorneys fees that they can seek from you for filing the motion, if the judge finds that you failed to act without substantial justification or you failed to meet and confer.

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