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Massachusetts Domestic Relations Procedure Rule 33: Interrogatories to Parties

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(a) Availability: Procedures for Use. Any party may serve upon any other party written interrogatories to be answered by the party served or, if the party served is a public or private corporation or a partnership or association or governmental agency, by any officer or agent, who shall furnish such information as is available to the party. Interrogatories may without leave of court, be served upon the plaintiff after commencement of the action and upon any other party with or after service of the summons and complaint upon that party.

No party shall serve on any other party as of right more than one set of interrogatories, unless the total number of all interrogatories in all sets combined does not exceed thirty, including interrogatories, subsidiary or incidental to, or dependent upon, other interrogatories, and however the same may be grouped or combined. The court, on a showing of good cause, or upon agreement of the parties, may allow service of additional interrogatories.

Each interrogatory shall be answered separately and fully in writing under the penalties of perjury, unless it is objected to, in which event the reasons for objection shall be stated in lieu of an answer; each answer or objection shall be preceded by the interrogatory to which it responds. The answers are to be signed by the person making them, and the objections signed by the attorney making them. The party upon whom the interrogatories have been served shall serve the answers and objections, if any, within 30 days after the service of the interrogatories, except that a defendant may serve answers or objections within 45 days after service of the summons and complaint upon the defendant. The court may allow a shorter or longer time. The party submitting the interrogatories may move for an order under Rule 37(a) with respect to any objection or other failure to answer an interrogatory. In addition, for failure to serve timely answers or objections to interrogatories (or further answers, as the case may be), the interrogating party may serve a final request for answers, specifying the failure. All sanctions available to a party under Rule 37 and any other sanction that the court may deem appropriate shall be available to compel compliance with this rule and such sanctions shall be ordered by the court except for good cause shown.

(b) Scope: Use at Trial. Interrogatories may relate to any matters which can be inquired into under Rule 26(b), and the answers may be used to the extent permitted by the rules of evidence. An interrogatory otherwise proper is not necessarily objectionable merely because an answer to the interrogatory involves an opinion or contention that relates to fact or the application of law to fact, but the court may order that such an interrogatory need not be answered until after designated discovery has been completed, or until a pretrial conference, or other later time. Identical to Mass.R.Civ.P. 33(b)

(c) Option to Produce Business Records. Where the answer to an interrogatory may be derived or ascertained from the business records of the party upon whom the interrogatory has been served or from an examination, audit or inspection of such business records, including a compilation, abstract or summary thereof, and the burden of deriving or ascertaining the answer is substantially the same for the party serving the interrogatory as for the party served, it is a sufficient answer to such interrogatory to specify the records from which the answer may be derived or ascertained and to afford to the party serving the interrogatory reasonable opportunity to examine, audit or inspect such records and to make copies, compilations, abstracts or summaries. A specification shall be in sufficient detail to permit the interrogating party to locate and to identify, as readily as can the party served, the records from which the answer may be ascertained. Identical to Mass.R.Civ.P. 33(c)

As amended June 5, 2003, effective September 2, 2003.

Reporter's Notes (2003). The non-filing requirement of amended Rule 5(d) necessitated changes in the Rule 33(a) procedure by which a party who has served interrogatories seeks to have judgment entered against a party for failure to respond to the interrogatories. Since a default judgment is not permissible under the Rules of Domestic Relations procedure, all sanctions available to a party under Rule 37 and any other sanction that the court may deem appropriate shall be available to compel compliance with this rule and such sanctions shall be ordered by the court except for good cause shown. In addition, the amendment brings the Probate and Family Court into conformity with the Rules of Civil Procedure by requiring that each answer or objection shall be preceded by the interrogatory to which it responds.