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What do I do about a “Request for Production of Documents”?

Produced by Mariah Jennings-Rampsi, South Coastal Counties Legal Services, with funding from American College of Bankruptcy
Reviewed December 2019

A request for documents is a legal way the plaintiff can get information from you about the case.  If you get a paper from the Plaintiff that asks you to send documents, you must send these documents.  It will say “Request for Documents” at the top. This is part of the discovery process.

If you do not respond in 30 days, the Plaintiff may be able to get a default judgment against you and win the case. A default judgment means the creditor will win the case just because you did not follow the rules. If the Request comes with a Summons and Complaint, you have 45 days to respond. 

You can object to a request for production of documents. One common objection is that the request is to “burdensome”. For example, the plaintiff is requesting 10 years of all your financial records. It’s complicated to know when to object. If you think you need to object, talk to a lawyer.

You can also redact or black out some information before you send the plaintiff a copy.  Children's names, personal information, social security numbers and bank account numbers may all be redacted.  Keep a chart of which documents you redacted information from, what was redacted, and why.

Write out your responses to the plaintiff's requests.  For example, say:

  • "Response to request number 1: See Attached copy of document requested at Exhibit A" then write "Exhibit A" at the top of a copy of the document they asked for. 
  • "Response to request number 2: Objection, this request is overly broad and burdensome."  If the request is asking for way too many documents.
  • "Response to request number 3: Plaintiff can view original document at plainiff's home.  Please contact plaintiff to set up an appointment to view it."  If you have something you cannot make a copy of.

Tips

  • Answer the requests for documents in writing.
  • Make copies of the documents you plan to send.  Do not send your original paperwork.  If you cannot make a copy write in the interrogatory that the plaintiff can set up a time to view it. 
  • They may ask for copies of audio, video or photographs.  Make copies if you can.  If you cannot, let them know they can set up a time to listen or view them.
  • Do the best you can to find and get copies of any documents you have to the Plaintiff. 
  • There are lots of different reasons you can object to handing over documents.  Talk to a lawyer.
  • Give a signed copy to the Plaintiff before the deadline in the letter; and
  • Keep a copy of everything yourself. 

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