Kelly v. Nationwide Mut. Ins. Co.

23 Ohio Op. 2d 29, 188 N.E.2d 445 (Ct. Com. Pl. 1963)

 

RULE:

Interrogatories, whether filed with a pleading under favor of Ohio Rev. Code Ann. § 2309.43, or separately under Ohio Rev. Code Ann. § 2317.07, are proper when: 1. Relevant to an issue in the action as distinguished from merely being relevant to an issue in the pleading of the inquirer, 2. They do not seek privileged information, 3. The information sought would also be admissible as evidence in the action. The rule is limited, however, by the further rule that interrogatories may not seek discovery of the manner whereby the opponent's case is to be established nor evidence which relates exclusively to his case, nor to what his witnesses will testify. There is marked distinction between records kept by a party in the regular course of his business operations and those amassed by him only after an incident has arisen out of which his lawsuit or defense arises. The former may be ordered produced, if pertinent to an issue in the action.

FACTS:

The insured filed an action against the insurer for recovery under the terms of a comprehensive motor vehicle insurance policy. The insurer, in its answer, denied that the policy was already in force at the time of the mishap, but aside from this, the remained amounts to a general denial. The insurer nonetheless attached a motion for a more complete answer to forty-two interrogatories.

ISSUE:

Can the defendant who merely made general denials in its answer attach interrogatories that merely pry into the evidence of the plaintiff?

ANSWER:

No.

CONCLUSION:

The court overruled the motion, except as to one interrogatory. The court held that the interrogatories were not proper where the information sought was not within the personal knowledge of the other party and was not pertinent to an issue raised by the pleading of the inquirer. The court concluded that, whether filed with a pleading under favor of Ohio Rev. Code Ann. § 2309.43 or separately, interrogatories were proper when they were relevant to an issue in the action, as distinguished from merely being relevant to an issue in the pleading of the inquirer, they did not seek privileged information, and the information sought would also have been admissible as evidence. The rule was limited, however, by the further rule that the interrogatories could not have sought discovery of the manner whereby the insured's case was established, nor evidence which related exclusively to his case, nor to what his witnesses' testimony.

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