(a) Availability; Procedures for Use. Except as limited by paragraph (b)(9), any party may serve upon any other party written interrogatories to be answered by the party served or, if the party served is a public or private corporation or a partnership or association or governmental agency, by any officer or agent, who shall furnish such information as is available to the party. Interrogatories may, without leave of court, be served upon the plaintiff after commencement of the action and upon any other party with or after service of the summons and complaint upon that party.
Each interrogatory shall be answered separately and fully in writing under oath, unless it is objected to, in which event the reasons for objection shall be stated in lieu of an answer. The answers are to be signed by the person making them, and the objections signed by the attorney making them. The party upon whom the interrogatories have been served shall serve a copy of the answers, and objections if any, within 30 days after the service of the interrogatories, except that a defendant may serve answers or objections within 45 days after service of the summons and complaint upon that defendant. The court may allow a shorter or longer time. The party submitting the interrogatories may move for an order under Rule 37(a) with respect to any objection to or other failure to answer an interrogatory.
This Rule 33(a) is the language of current Federal Rule except the first line. This language permits interrogatories to any party, not just an adverse party, and increases the time within which a party may object or respond to 30 days.
(b) Standard Interrogatories. In all cases the following standard interrogatories may be served by one party upon another unless otherwise ordered by the court for good cause shown. The interrogatories shall be deemed to continue from the time of service, until the time of trial of the action so that information sought, which comes to the knowledge of a party, or his representative or attorney, after original answers to interrogatories have been submitted, shall be promptly transmitted to the other party.
(1) Give the names and addresses of persons known to the parties or counsel to be witnesses concerning the facts of the case and indicate whether or not written or recorded statements have been taken from the witnesses and indicate who has possession of such statements.
(2) Set forth a list of photographs, plats, sketches or other prepared documents in possession of the party that relate to the claim or defense in the case.
(3) In cases involving personal injury set forth the names and addresses of all physicians who have treated the party and all hospitals to which the party has been committed in connection with said injuries and also set forth a statement of all medical costs involved.
(4) Set forth the names and addresses of all insurance companies which have liability insurance coverage relating to the claim and set forth the number or numbers of the policies involved and the amount or amounts of liability coverage provided in each policy.
(5) Set forth an itemized statement of all damages, exclusive of pain and suffering, claimed to have been sustained by the party.
(6) List the names and addresses of any expert witnesses whom the party proposes to use as a witness at the trial of the case.
(7) For each person known to the parties or counsel to be a witness concerning the facts of the case, set forth either a summary sufficient to inform the other party of the important facts known to or observed by such witness, or provide a copy of any written or recorded statements taken from such witnesses.
(8) [Defendants only.] If the defendant is improperly identified, give the proper identification and state whether counsel will accept service of an amended summons and pleading reflecting the correct information.
(9) Limitations. In addition to the standard interrogatories authorized by this paragraph, the court may order additional interrogatories for good cause shown in any case. In all actions in which the amount in controversy is not less than $25,000, and in all actions for declaratory or injunctive relief, a party may serve additional interrogatories including more than one set of interrogatories upon any other party; but the total number of general interrogatories to any one party shall not exceed fifty questions including subparts, except by leave of court upon good cause shown.
Rule 33(b)(5) amends present Circuit Court Rule 90 to require an "itemized" statement of all special damages exclusive of pain and suffering. 33(b)(8) is amended to make clear that in certain cases additional interrogatories are permitted beyond the standard interrogatories. Paragraphs 33(b)(1) through (4) and (6) are verbatim the standard interrogatories permitted by present Circuit Court Rule 90(e)(A) through (D) and (F). Paragraph (b)(7) is new and provides for a summary of the facts known to the witnesses in the case. The rule requires a detailed summary so as to avoid the problem encountered with the interrogatories directed to experts in Federal Rule 26(b)(4)(A)(i) which often results in a short, vague summary of expected testimony. On the other hand, it is limited to important facts known or observed by the witness so that the summary is restricted to the actual knowledge of the witness. Paragraph (b)(8) is added to provide for additional special interrogatories to parties in complex cases. The $10,000 limitation follows the approach set by present Circuit Court Rule 87J. The limit of fifty such interrogatories follows present local rules of the Federal courts.
The changes to Rule 33(b)(8) raise the amount in controversy necessary to authorize general interrogatories as a matter of course from $10,000 to $25,000. The rule is clarified to permit up to fifty general interrogatories in addition to the seven standard interrogatories.
Rule 33(b)(8) is amended to make clear that the court has the discretion to permit additional interrogatories in any case for good cause shown.
This amendment added section (b)(8) relating to defendants.
(c) Option to Produce Business Records. Where the answer to an interrogatory may be derived or ascertained from the business records, including electronically stored information, of the party upon whom the interrogatory has been served or from an examination, audit or inspection of such business records, including a compilation, abstract or summary thereof, and the burden of deriving or ascertaining the answer is substantially the same for the party serving the interrogatory as for the party served, it is a sufficient answer to such interrogatory to specify the records from which the answer may be derived or ascertained and to afford to the party serving the interrogatory reasonable opportunity to examine, audit or inspect such records and to make copies, compilations, abstracts or summaries. A specification shall be in sufficient detail to permit the interrogating party to locate and to identify, as readily as can the party served, the records from which the answer may be ascertained.
This Rule 33(c) is the Federal Rule and permits the party responding to discovery interrogatories to supply the documents from which the information can be obtained when the burden of extracting the information is the same for either party. It places on the requesting party the burden of obtaining the information if he specially needs it.
The amendments to Rules 16, 26, 33, 34, 37 and 45 of the South Carolina Rules of Civil Procedure concerning electronic discovery are substantially similar to the corresponding provisions in the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. The rules concerning electronic discovery are intended to provide a practical, efficient and cost-effective method to assure reasonable discovery. Pursuit of electronic discovery must relate to the claims and defenses asserted in the pleadings and should serve as a means for facilitating a just and cost-effective resolution of disputes.
(d) Scope; Use at Trial. Interrogatories may relate to any matters which can be inquired into under Rule 26(b), and the answers may be used to the extent permitted by the rules of evidence. An interrogatory otherwise proper is not necessarily objectionable merely because an answer to the interrogatory involves an opinion or contention that relates to fact or the application of law to fact, but the court may order that such an interrogatory need not be answered until after designated discovery has been completed or until a pre-trial hearing or other later time.