A correspondent has asked me to post some sample responses to requests for admissions under the federal rules. Fed.R.Civ.P. 36 gives the following guidelines for responding:
If objection is made, the reasons therefore shall be stated. The answer shall specifically deny the matter or set forth in detail the reasons why the answering party cannot truthfully admit or deny the matter. A denial shall fairly meet the substance of the requested admission, and when good faith requires that a party qualify an answer or deny only a part of the matter of which an admission is requested, the party shall specify so much of it as is true and qualify or deny the remainder. An answering party may not give lack of information or knowledge as a reason for failure to admit or deny unless the party states that the party has made reasonable inquiry and that the information known or readily obtainable by the party is insufficient to enable the party to admit or deny.
Here are some responses from an actual case with the names of the parties and other identifying features changed--
1. At all material times, Peregrina, Inc., was a corporation duly organized and existing under law.
2. At all material times, Peregrina, Inc., was the owner, and/or operator and owner pro hace vice of Barges CCTT2665 and CCTT 2666.
RESPONSE: Defendant objects that the use of the term "and/or" renders this request vague and incapable of being admitted or denied.
3. Peregrina, Inc., was the bailee of the cargo in Barges CCTT2665 and CCTT 2666.
RESPONSE: Defendant states that after a reasonable inquiry, the information known to or readily obtainable by them is insufficient to enable it to admit or deny this request.
4. On or about May 16, 2004, a casualty occurred in which the tow of the M/V CIRCO allided with the Eads Bridge, in the St. Louis harbor, at or about Mile 180 Upper Mississippi River.
RESPONSE: Defendant objects to Request 4 in that it seeks a legal conclusion as to whether an "allision" occurred. If the words "made contact" are substituted for "allided," Defendant admits Request 4.
5. Prior to the aforesaid casualty, Barge CCTT2665 was tight, staunch, and seaworthy.
RESPONSE: Defendant objects to this request because it is vague and ambiguous and seeks a legal conclusion as to whether the barge in question was "seaworthy."