A reader wrote to take issue with my last post, "Corporate-Representative Depositions: Are You Limited to the Topics in Your Notice?" In that post, I wrote about King v. Pratt & Whitney, which holds that a questioning lawyer is not limited to the topics in a corporate-representative notice. After quoting from the case, I wrote that it "represents the minority view." This was the part of the post that the reader questioned.
Since I didn't do a survey of federal or state law on the issue, it would have been better to say simply that there is a split in authority on the issue. As for state courts, I don't have a good sense for the way courts have interpreted state-court rules equivalent to Fed. R. Civ. P. 30(b)(6) on this issue, if at all. As for federal courts, Moore's Federal Practice notes that there is a "split of authority as to the scope of examination of a witness produced pursuant to a Rule (30)(b)(6) notice." 7-30 Moore's Federal Practice 30.25. In Moore's, there follows a discussion of Paparelli v. Prudential Ins. Co., 108 F.R.D. 727 (D. Mass. 1985), which holds that "the deponent may only be questioned regarding issues described in the notice." Moore's next discusses the King case, stating that it is better-reasoned:
The better view is reflected in the decision . . . that a Rule 30(b)(6) deponent may be questioned as broadly as any other deponent. This court felt that the "reasonable particularity" language [of 30(b)(6)] does not limit the scope of examination, but rather informs the entity of the information the designated deponent must be able to supply. The court reasoned that the purpose of Rule 30(b)(6) is not to provide greater notice or protection to corporate deponents, but rather to have the correct person present at the deposition. If a corporate deponent designee is unable to answer a question, he or she may simply so advise deposing counsel and further deposition before a more knowledgeable corporate representative may be arranged.
Id.; see also Cabot Corp. v. Yamulla Enters., Inc., 194 F.R.D. 499, 500 (M.D. Pa. 2000) (scope of Rule 30(b)(6) deposition is not limited to matters described in the notice); Detoy v. City and County of San Francisco, 196 F.R.D. 362, 366 (N.D.Cal. 2000) (same).