suppose a party is seeking discovery on an opponent.

The opponent refuses to answer discovery because they say "irrelevant, not related to the claims".

If the opponent does that on interrogatories the correct course is to motion the court to compel answers by telling the court how those interrogatories are specifically relevant.

So, if the issue is over request for admissions and the opponent claims "irrelevant, not related to the claims" what is the proper course here?

A party could do a motion to deem matters admitted. But how much of, if any, detail about relevance should the party put in their motion to deem matters admitted? Some people claim that all request for admissions are relevant if they concern any aspect of the case. So, how much of if any detail concering relevance should go into a motion to deem matters admitted?

I am adding the following. The problem seems to be the statement "a party can not object as irrelevant without more".
Well, is there more if the objection contains; "not related to the claim".
So, is this the statement that puts the shoe on the other foot?
Does this statement put the burden of proof of relevance on the requester and require excruciating detail to prove relevance? The consensus seems to be, any request is relevant if it will lead to discoverable evidence or facts. And these cases are not going into the DETAILS of why the RFA's are relevant in their particular case. So, the question is if a person were to do a motion to determine sufficiency of responses without stating EXACTLY why the responses are relevant and merely stating that all RFA's are relevant, would they be wasting their time or would they be preserving their legal strategy? In regards to RFA's, is the responding party drawing a legal conclusion by responding with, "objection, not related to the claim"?

2 Answers 2


You could bring a motion to compel for failing to respond substantively to a motion to admit which is objected to, just as you could for an interrogatory. The process is the same.

Normally, a request to admit would not be deemed admitted if a substantive objection was filed by the deadline, even if there was no express admission or denial. Only if the objection were completely and utterly meritless would a judge be likely to order that the request to admit would be deemed admitted in that case since the response was a de facto non-answer and the objection was a mere sham.

@Iñaki Viggers states in his answer:

the purpose of a request for admissions is [to attempt] to stipulate --rather than to discover-- the facts on which plaintiff and defendant agree.

This is not really true.

A request to admit is a discovery tool to prevent you from having to prove up what should be non-controversial facts that might nonetheless take time or documentation to prove at trial and to gather evidence for in advance of trial. The questions in a request to admit are typically ones that the other side would not willingly stipulate to (for example, because they'd like to be able to offer testimony to explain a seemingly unfavorable fact) but may not be able to deny.

If a party denies a request to admit and then offers nothing to support the denial in discovery practice or at trial, that party risks court sanctions for the groundless denial.

Good litigation practice is also always to include some requests to admit that are effectively outcome determinative to give the opposing party a chance to screw up and essentially default the case by not responding on time.

  • Legal def. of Stipulate: "Arrange or settle definitely, as an agreement or covenant" (Black's Law Diction.). No mention of how willfully the parties do so. Legal def. of Admissions: "[...] voluntary acknowledgements made by a party [...] of certain facts" (Id., emphasis added). In criticizing someone else's answer, you really cannot distinguish between agreed and non-controversial facts. And issuing a req. for admissions merely to see if the opposing party misses the deadline is vexatious rather than good litigation practice bc defaults can always be reversed for good cause. Aug 21, 2018 at 8:37
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    @InakiViggers An admission in the context of the discovery rules is not voluntary. It stipulation is entered into voluntarily by both parties. A request for admission must be answered truthfully, whether or not the other party wants to do so. Legal dictionaries don't trump court rules. You unfortunately routinely misunderstand the law without realizing it. And, no judge is ever going to reverse an admission on the grounds that it admits liability as vexatious. This isn't what vexatious means.
    – ohwilleke
    Aug 21, 2018 at 11:51
  • (1) Also discovery requests need to be answered truthfully, so there is no difference. (2) Legal dictionaries cite case law, which may trump court rules. (3) Michigan MCR 2.312(D)(1) reads "For good cause the court may allow a party to amend or withdraw an admission", and same rule at (B)(1) equates "failure to respond" to "admission".(4) It is vexatious (which Black's Law Dict. defines as "without reasonable or probable cause or excuse") to harass an opposing party through requests for admissions with the bare hope that he will "essentially default the case by not responding on time". Aug 21, 2018 at 13:24

To clarify, the purpose of a request for admissions is [to attempt] to stipulate --rather than to discover-- the facts on which plaintiff and defendant agree. The idea is to streamline the judicial process by telling the court: "see, we the adversary parties have reached consensus on these factual issues, so you no longer need to conduct fact-finding about them". Henceforth, the court will focus on ascertaining the remaining issues of material fact, and decide the case [supposedly] in accordance with the law.

if the issue is over request for admissions and the opponent claims "irrelevant, not related to the claims" what is the proper course here?

Usually there is not much in the sense of immediate remedy for such scenario. However, a party's unjustifiable decision to decline the request or to elude it (for instance, by merely calling the request "irrelevant") can be detrimental to his or her credibility on these and other matters if the requester produces evidence that demonstrates that the denial was vexatious or unreasonable.

From my perspective, if the adversary alleges --without more-- that the matter in the request is irrelevant, then that party implicitly forfeits his or her right to subsequently dispute the veracity of that issue once the court determines it is material to the claim(s).

how much of if any detail concering relevance should go into a motion to deem matters admitted?

It largely depends on the prima facie elements [of the claims] that the moving party seeks to get judicially admitted. The motion should elaborate on how the existing evidence sufficiently proves one or more of these elements. As with many other aspects of briefing, the moving party should point to statutes and/or case law where that type of evidence has been recognized as decisive in akin controversies.

Moreover, extrinsic facts are more concise and easier to verify through evidence (and, thus, to obtain a ruling that establishes them) than intrinsic facts, such as the defendant's intent or mental state at the time of his unlawful conduct. That is because intrinsic facts are not directly observable, are hardly ever admitted by the party against whom they weigh, and involve circumstances which are susceptible to conflicting interpretations. Therefore, establishing intrinsic facts requires the moving party to present a more thorough development.

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