One of the best discovery tools to get straight to the facts and clear up any ambiguity is requests for admissions. An often neglected benefit in using requests for admissions is their punitive ability to recover cost of proof sanctions. This article examines the procedure necessary to recover cost of proof sanctions.
Moving the Court
If a party fails to admit the genuineness of any document or the truth of any matter when requested to do so through a request for admission, and if the party requesting the admission proves such genuineness or truth, the requesting party may move the court for an order requiring the other party to pay the reasonable expenses incurred in making that proof, including reasonable attorney’s fees. California Code of Civil Procedure (“CCP”) §2033.420(a).
Court Reasoning for Denial of the Order
Be mindful that the court does have broad discretion in denying cost of proof sanctions. The court may deny the order if it finds any of the following: (1) an objection to the request was sustained or a response to it was waived under CCP §2033.290; (2) the admission sought was of no substantial importance; (3) the party failing to make the admission had reasonable ground to believe that the party would prevail on the matter; and (4) there was other good reason for failure to admit. CCP §2033.420(b).
The determination of whether there was no good reason for the denial of a requested admission, whether the requested admission was of substantial importance, and the amount of expenses to be awarded, if any, are all within the sound discretion of the trial court; an abuse of discretion occurs only where it is shown that the trial court exceeded the bounds of reason. Bloxham v. Saldinger, (2014) 228 Cal.App.4th 729.
Though often underutilized, requests for admissions are beneficial in pressuring the opposing party to admit the genuineness of any document or the truth of any matter, because of their punitive nature. Keep in mind the court’s fairly wide discretion in denying an order for reasonable expenses incurred and attorney’s fees.