Thursday, July 2, 2009

What to do if your company gets a deposition notice?

Read Be Prepared to Deal With Deposition Notices and get ready to call your lawyer:

Your company has just been served with a 30(b)(6) deposition notice under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, and it is your job to respond to the notice and determine who will testify on behalf of the corporation. Is there anything you can do to ensure that your company puts its best foot forward at the deposition? The answer is yes: There are numerous strategies for selecting and preparing witnesses to participate in these depositions.

A 30(b)(6) deposition is a widely used litigation tool that requires a corporation to appear at a deposition and respond to questions regarding a specific list of topics contained in the notice. Since these depositions make it easier to depose the right corporate officers and managers on the right topics, as in-house counsel you need to be aware of how to avoid the many potential pitfalls of 30(b)(6).

Take a good look at the list of topics in the notice. Once you fully comprehend the crucial points involved, you need to identify the right witness or witnesses to speak on behalf of your company. Balance the number of witnesses against cost and time constraints.

The scope of a 30(b)(6) deposition is broad: A company can proffer as many witnesses as it needs to cover all areas of inquiry. A corporation may prefer to respond to a particular topic of inquiry covered in a plaintiff's notice by designating several corporate representatives. But doing so may unnecessarily subject the corporation to many hours of deposition testimony that an opposing party otherwise might not have the ability to take. And that isn't necessarily an outcome that you want to encourage.
Oh, if you think just because it says "federal" that this may not apply to you, then think again. Indiana's trial rules have a similar rule for our state courts:
(6) A party may in his notice name as the deponent an organization, including without limitation a governmental organization, or a partnership and designate with reasonable particularity the matters on which examination is requested. The organization so named shall designate one or more officers, directors, or managing agents, executive officers, or other persons duly authorized and consenting to testify on its behalf. The persons so designated shall testify as to matters known or available to the organization. This subdivision (B)(6) does not preclude taking a deposition by any other procedure authorized in these rules.