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Chancery Finds Wholly Generic Objections to Discovery Requests Result in Waiver and Fee-Shifting

Bocock v. Innovate Corp., C.A. No. 2021-0224-PAF (Del. Ch. Dec. 6, 2023)
In this recent letter opinion, Vice Chancellor Fioravanti considered whether the plaintiffs’ failure to provide specific objections to discovery requests in a timely manner resulted in the waiver of those objections.

The plaintiffs initially did not respond to defendants’ discovery requests, and subsequently requested an extension on the day responses were due. At the close of the extension, the plaintiffs produced a seven-page set of “General Objections” that were not responsive to specific requests, consisted of wholly boilerplate language, and were duplicative in nature. “Inexplicably,” the Court wrote, “[p]laintiffs did not provide a specific or substantive response to a single interrogatory or request for production.” The defendants informed the plaintiffs that they would allow them six days to supplement the deficient responses, but the plaintiffs did not respond, and they later failed to appear at a meet and confer set to discuss the issue. The defendants then moved to compel.

The Court agreed with the defendants, finding that waiver of objections was appropriate given that the boilerplate objections lacked specificity, and therefore the plaintiffs had failed to assert proper and timely objections. The Court noted that Delaware caselaw establishes that “boilerplate objections have been considered prima facie evidence of a Rule 26 violation.” The Court also noted that the duplicative nature of the stock responses demonstrated that the plaintiffs did not take their discovery obligations seriously.

The Court declined to assert waiver over objections pertaining to privileged or work product material, noting that objections to claims of privilege and work product protection are best adjudicated after receipt of a privilege log. The Court noted that given the circumstances surrounding the responses, the question of privilege waiver was a “close call,” but it ultimately upheld the general privilege objection. All other objections were deemed waived, and attorneys' fees were awarded.

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