In Arkansas (and every other state that I know of) the Rules of Civil Procedure allow any party to a lawsuit to propound requests for admission on any other party. Under Rule 36, the defendant must then admit the request, or deny and state specifically why he or she is denying the request. We at Bailey & Oliver Law Firm employ this powerful weapon of discovery whenever we can; much to delight of judges and juries.
Requests for Admission are intended to eliminate effort, time, and expense involved in proving facts that are not in issue in the case. Therefore, using this method narrows the facts to be proved, making the job of everyone (lawyers, witnesses, judge, and jury) easier.
By narrowing the issue, and eliminating the need to put on evidence of facts that are not in contention, the real issues of the case come out, and the entire process becomes simpler and shorter. This is why judges and jury’s love requests for admission.
Some attorneys argue that requests for admission are not needed if a witness or party testified to the same thing in a deposition. However, we argue, and judges in Arkansas the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals agree, that requests for admission do more than deposition testimony to make the trial simpler.
Unlike deposition testimony, if a request is admitted, it cannot be contradicted at trial. It becomes fact… no argument. So, a witness cannot change their story on the witness stand and leave it to the lawyer to remind the witness what he said before, the judge to rule that it is O.K. to remind the witness, and the jury to figure out which version is the truth. Instead, admitted requests can be stated as unequivocal fact, thus reducing the time and headache involved in deducing the truth from conflicting testimony.
For example, a party may admit liability in a deposition. Without a request for admission, the party could possibly change their story at trial, and leave it to the jury to decide which is true. But, with an admission, the lawyer can stand up and say:
"Defendant x has admitted he is at fault for this wreck. He agrees, the judge agrees, the plaintiff agrees, and the defendant agrees. This is a fact, so you don’t have to worry about it. We are not going to waste your time talking about it. We are going to talk about what you are here to do today…"
Judges love that it saves time, juries love that it saves time and simplifies their job. These are two groups that you definitely want to like you. So, we at Bailey & Oliver encourage you to use requests for admission whenever possible, even for what may seem like the little things. Here are some issues that are frequently admitted:
1. The necessary and reasonableness of medical treatment (Arkansas law severely limits any argument that a physician’s treatment was not reasonable and necessary, so it is easy to admit)
2. The qualifications of a treating physician
3. The rules/laws in force a the time of a particular incident
4. PRIOR TESTIMONY/STATEMENTS (as mentioned, this "seals" the testimony)
5. Fault (this is common in cases with clear liability, where the only dispute is the amount of damages)
6. Medical treatment sought for an injury
7. The amount of Medical Bills
The beauty of this tool is that it narrows the focus of a trial, leaving only the disputed facts to be proved. And, if the opposing party denies, then you know why, and exactly what you must be prepared for in trial. If they do not answer, file a motion to compel and let the judge order his way to a more efficient and shorter trial. So, use them… and make the court and the jury your friend!