WILLIAM T. CHAGNON Petitioner
TRAVELERS INSURANCE COMPANY Respondent/Insurer for TILLEMAN MOTOR COMPANY Employer.
ORDER REGARDING DISCOVERY
case is before the Court following remand by the Supreme
Court. The sole issue presented for determination is the
amount of attorney fees and costs. Petitioner's claim for
attorney fees and costs was submitted on August 30, 1991. It
contained a one page single spaced itemization of costs and a
28 page enumeration of attorney hours. Respondent, Travelers
Insurance Company (Travelers), objected to the claim.
subsequent exchanges, petitioner's attorney has deleted
numerous items from his claim. Nonetheless, the parties are
still unable to agree on the amount due petitioner. Travelers
has two principal objections to the hours listed by
petitioner's attorney. First, it alleges that many of the
hours were spent on unrelated matters or matters on which the
petitioner did not prevail. Second, it alleges that some of
the itemized time was in excess of a reasonable time
necessary to perform the particular work.
interrogatories propounded on November 8, 1993, the
petitioner asked Travelers to specifically identify each time
entry it alleges, (1) was not incurred on matters decided by
this Court in its Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law;
(2) was not related to an issue on which petitioner
prevailed; or (3) was in excess of the amount of time
justified by the case. Petitioner also propounded four
additional interrogatories which will be discussed later in
November 29, 1993, Travelers served its answers to the
interrogatories. Travelers objected to every interrogatory
and provided little responsive information.
December 7, 1993, petitioner filed a MOTION TO COMPEL OR
DISMISS OR FOR SANCTIONS. The motion asks the Court to order
Travelers to answer petitioner's interrogatories. In the
alternative petitioner asks the Court to dismiss
Travelers' objections to the fees and costs requested by
petitioner, and thereby award petitioner fees and costs by
default. Travelers has filed a brief in opposition to the
motion. In that brief and its attachments, it has provided
some of the specific information requested by the
general matter, the rules of discovery are "liberally
construed to make all relevant facts available to the parties
in advance of trial and to reduce the possibilities of
surprise and unfair advantage. . . ." Wolfe v.
Northern Pacific Ry., 147 Mont. 29, 40, 409 P.2d 528
(1966). Interrogatories must be fully and fairly answered.
ARM 24.5.323(4) expressly requires that each interrogatory be
answered "fully". The rule permits objections to be
made for "good cause," providing in relevant part:
"Objections may be made because of annoyance, expense,
embarrassment, oppression, irrelevance, or other good
cause." Id. Objections must be signed by the
answering party's attorney, Id. This latter
requirement is important because the attorney's signature
constitutes a certification by him or her that the objection
is (1) well grounded in fact, (2) warranted by law, and (3)
"not interposed for any improper purpose, such as to
harass or cause unnecessary delay or needless increase in the
cost of litigation." Section 39-71-2914(3), MCA.
reviewing the answers to interrogatories and the parties'
briefs, the Court concludes that Travelers' objections
have no substantial basis and that its answers to most of the
interrogatories are unresponsive. The information provided in
Travelers' brief demonstrates the insubstantial basis of
its original answers and objections.
interrogatories propounded by petitioner are aimed squarely
at determining Travelers' contentions in this case.
Interrogatory 1 asks:
In Defendant's Objection to Reasonableness of
Attorney's Fees, page 2, the Defendant stated: "A
substantial number of the hours claimed to have been incurred
by Claimant's counsel were not incurred before the
Workers' Compensation Court and in pursuit of the issues
addressed by the Court's Findings of Fact and Conclusions
of Law; . . . ."
Please identify by date and entry each and every item
contained in Petitioner's Amended Time Records submitted
to the Workers' Compensation Court by letter dated March
8, 1993, to which this objection specifically applies.
questions in Interrogatories 2 and 3 are identical except
Interrogatory No. 2 pertains to Travelers' assertion that
"[c]laimant failed to prevail on a number of issues
before this Court and thereby is not entitled to
attorney's fees pertaining to those issues," and
Interrogatory No. 3 pertains to Travelers' assertion that
"[t]he hours set out in Claimant's attorney's
Affidavit are far in excess of those justified by this
answer to the first interrogatory was:
Objection. Respondent objects to this Interrogatory on the
grounds that it seeks the mental impressions of counsel for
the Respondent contrary to Rule 26(b)(3), M.R.Civ.P. [See
also the Montana Supreme Court's most recent decision on
opinion work product set out in Palmer v. Farmers
Insurance Exchange, Supreme Court Cause No. 91-523,
decided October 18, 1992.] Without waiving said objection,
Respondent will cite to Petitioner ...