(a) Initiation of discovery. Any party may initiate discovery described in this section, without the consent or approval of the administrative law judge, at any time after a complaint has been filed in the proceedings.
(b) Methods of discovery. The following methods of discovery are permitted under this section: depositions on oral examination or written questions of any person; written interrogatories directed to a party; requests for production of documents or tangible items to any person; and requests for admission by a party. A party is not required to file written interrogatories and responses, requests for production of documents or tangible items and responses, and requests for admission and response with the administrative law judge or the hearing docket clerk. In the event of a discovery dispute, a party shall attach a copy of these documents in support of a motion made under this section.
(c) Service on the agency. A party shall serve each discovery request directed to the agency or any agency employee on the agency attorney of record.
(d) Time for response to discovery requests. Unless otherwise directed by this subpart or agreed by the parties, a party shall respond to a request for discovery, including filing objections to a request for discovery, not later than 30 days of service of the request.
(e) Scope of discovery. Subject to the limits on discovery set forth in paragraph (f) of this section, a party may discover any matter that is not privileged and that is relevant to the subject matter of the proceeding. A party may discover information that relates to the claim or defense of any party including the existence, description, nature, custody, condition, and location of any document or other tangible item and the identity and location of any person having knowledge of discoverable matter. A party may discover facts known, or opinions held, by an expert who any other party expects to call to testify at the hearing. A party has no ground to object to a discovery request on the basis that the information sought would not be admissible at the hearing if the information sought during discovery is reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence.
(f) Limiting discovery. The administrative law judge shall limit the frequency and extent of discovery permitted by this section if a party shows that—
(1) The information requested is cumulative or repetitious;
(2) The information requested can be obtained from another less burdensome and more convenient source;
(3) The party requesting the information has had ample opportunity to obtain the information through other discovery methods permitted under this section; or
(4) The method or scope of discovery requested by the party is unduly burdensome or expensive.
(g) Confidential orders. A party or person who has received a discovery request for information that is related to a trade secret, confidential or sensitive material, competitive or commercial information, proprietary data, or information on research and development, may file a motion for a confidential order with the administrative law judge and shall serve a copy of the motion for a confidential order on each party.
(1) The party or person making the motion must show that the confidential order is necessary to protect the information from disclosure to the public.
(2) If the administrative law judge determines that the requested material is not necessary to decide the case, the administrative law judge shall preclude any inquiry into the matter by any party.
(3) If the administrative law judge determines that the requested material may be disclosed during discovery, the administrative law judge may order that the material may be discovered and disclosed under limited conditions or may be used only under certain terms and conditions.
(4) If the administrative law judge determines that the requested material is necessary to decide the case and that a confidential order is warranted, the administrative law judge shall provide:
(i) An opportunity for review of the document by the parties off the record;
(ii) Procedures for excluding the information from the record; and
(iii) Order that the parties shall not disclose the information in any manner and the parties shall not use the information in any other proceeding.
(h) Protective orders. A party or a person who has received a request for discovery may file a motion for protective order with the administrative law judge and shall serve a copy of the motion for protective order on each party. The party or person making the motion must show that the protective order is necessary to protect the party or the person from annoyance, embarrassment, oppression, or undue burden or expense. As part of the protective order, the administrative law judge may:
(1) Deny the discovery request;
(2) Order that discovery be conducted only on specified terms and conditions, including a designation of the time or place for discovery or a determination of the method of discovery; or
(3) Limit the scope of discovery or preclude any inquiry into certain matters during discovery.
(i) Duty to supplement or amend responses. A party who has responded to a discovery request has a duty to supplement or amend the response, as soon as the information is known, as follows:
(1) A party shall supplement or amend any response to a question requesting the identity and location of any person having knowledge of discoverable matters.
(2) A party shall supplement or amend any response to a question requesting the identity of each person who will be called to testify at the hearing as an expert witness and the subject matter and substance of that witness' testimony.
(3) A party shall supplement or amend any response that was incorrect when made or any response that was correct when made but is no longer correct, accurate, or complete.
(j) Depositions. The following rules apply to depositions taken pursuant to this section:
(1) Form. A deposition shall be taken on the record and reduced to writing. The person being deposed shall sign the deposition unless the parties agree to waive the requirement of a signature.
(2) Administration of oaths. Within the United States, or a territory or possession subject to the jurisdiction of the United States, a party shall take a deposition before a person authorized to administer oaths by the laws of the United States or authorized by the law of the place where the examination is held. In foreign countries, a party shall take a deposition in any manner allowed by the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.
(3) Notice of deposition. A party shall serve a notice of deposition, stating the time and place of the deposition and the name and address of each person to be examined, on the person to be deposed, on the administrative law judge, on the hearing docket clerk, and on each party not later than 7 days before the deposition. A party may serve a notice of deposition less than 7 days before the deposition only with consent of the administrative law judge. If a subpoena duces tecum is to be served on the person to be examined, the party shall attach a copy of the subpoena duces tecum that describes the materials to be produced at the deposition to the notice of deposition.
(4) Use of depositions. A party may use any part or all of a deposition at a hearing authorized under this subpart only upon a showing of good cause. The deposition may be used against any party who was present or represented at the deposition or who had reasonable notice of the deposition.
(k) Interrogatories. A party, the party's attorney, or the party's representative may sign the party's responses to interrogatories. A party shall answer each interrogatory separately and completely in writing. If a party objects to an interrogatory, the party shall state the objection and the reasons for the objection. An opposing party may use any part or all of a party's responses to interrogatories at a hearing authorized under this subpart to the extent that the response is relevant, material, and not repetitious.
(1) A party shall not serve more than 30 interrogatories to each other party. Each subpart of an interrogatory shall be counted as a separate interrogatory.
(2) A party shall file a motion for leave to serve additional interrogatories on a party with the administrative law judge before serving additional interrogatories on a party. The administrative law judge shall grant the motion only if the party shows good cause for the party's failure to inquire about the information previously and that the information cannot reasonably be obtained using less burdensome discovery methods or be obtained from other sources.
(l) Requests for admission. A party may serve a written request for admission of the truth of any matter within the scope of discovery under this section or the authenticity of any document described in the request. A party shall set forth each request for admission separately. A party shall serve copies of documents referenced in the request for admission unless the documents have been provided or are reasonably available for inspection and copying.
(1) Time. A party's failure to respond to a request for admission, in writing and signed by the attorney or the party, not later than 30 days after service of the request, is deemed an admission of the truth of the statement or statements contained in the request for admission. The administrative law judge may determine that a failure to respond to a request for admission is not deemed an admission of the truth if a party shows that the failure was due to circumstances beyond the control of the party or the party's attorney.
(2) Response. A party may object to a request for admission and shall state the reasons for objection. A party may specifically deny the truth of the matter or describe the reasons why the party is unable to truthfully deny or admit the matter. If a party is unable to deny or admit the truth of the matter, the party shall show that the party has made reasonable inquiry into the matter or that the information known to, or readily obtainable by, the party is insufficient to enable the party to admit or deny the matter. A party may admit or deny any part of the request for admission. If the administrative law judge determines that a response does not comply with the requirements of this rule or that the response is insufficient, the matter is deemed admitted.
(3) Effect of admission. Any matter admitted or deemed admitted under this section is conclusively established for the purpose of the hearing and appeal.
(m) Motion to compel discovery. A party may make a motion to compel discovery if a person refuses to answer a question during a deposition, a party fails or refuses to answer an interrogatory, if a person gives an evasive or incomplete answer during a deposition or when responding to an interrogatory, or a party fails or refuses to produce documents or tangible items. During a deposition, the proponent of a question may complete the deposition or may adjourn the examination before making a motion to compel if a person refuses to answer.
(n) Failure to comply with a discovery order or order to compel. If a party fails to comply with a discovery order or an order to compel, the administrative law judge, limited to the extent of the party's failure to comply with the discovery order or motion to compel, may:
(1) Strike that portion of a party's pleadings;
(2) Preclude prehearing or discovery motions by that party;
(3) Preclude admission of that portion of a party's evidence at the hearing; or
(4) Preclude that portion of the testimony of that party's witnesses at the hearing.
[Amdt. 13-21, 55 FR 27575, July 3, 1990, as amended by Amdt. 13-23, 55 FR 45983, Oct. 31, 1990]