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e-CFR data is current as of March 4, 2021

Title 7Subtitle BChapter IISubchapter CPart 283Subpart B → §283.12

Title 7: Agriculture
Subpart B—Appeals of QC Claims of $50,000 or More

§283.12   Discovery.

(a) Dispositions—(1) Motion for taking deposition. Only upon a finding by the ALJ that a deposition is necessary to preserve testimony as provided in this subparagraph, upon the motion of a party to the appeal, the ALJ may, at any time after the filing of the answer, order the taking of testimony by deposition. The motion shall set forth:

(i) The name and address of the proposed deponent;

(ii) The name and address of the person (referred to hereafter in this section as the “officer”) qualified under the regulations in this part to take depositions, before whom the proposed examination is to be made;

(iii) The proposed time and place of the examination, which shall be at least 15 days after the date of service of the motion; and

(iv) The reasons why such deposition should be taken, which shall be solely for the purpose of eliciting testimony which otherwise might not be available at the time of the hearing, for use as provided in accordance with paragraph (a)(7) of this section.

(2) ALJ's order for taking depositions. If the ALJ finds that the testimony may not otherwise be available at the hearing, the taking of the deposition may be ordered. The order shall be served upon the parties, and shall state:

(i) The time and place of the examination;

(ii) The name of the officer before whom the examination is to be made; and

(iii) The name of the deponent. The officer and the time and place need not be the same as those suggested in the motion.

(3) Qualifications of officer. The deposition shall be made before an officer authorized by the law of the United States or by the law of the place of the examination to administer oaths, or before an officer authorized by the Secretary to administer oaths.

(4) Procedure on examination. (i) The deponent shall be examined under oath or affirmation and shall be subject to cross-examination. Objections to questions or documents shall be in the short form, stating the grounds of objections relied upon. The questions propounded, together with all objections made (but not including argument or debate), shall be recorded verbatim. In lieu of oral examination, parties may transmit written questions to the officer prior to the examination and the officer shall propound such questions to the deponent.

(ii) The party taking the deposition shall arrange for the examination of the witness either by oral examination, or by written questions upon agreement of the parties or as directed by the ALJ. If the examination is conducted by means of written questions, copies of the questions shall be served upon the other party to the appeal and filed with the officer at least 10 days prior to the date set for the examination unless otherwise agreed, and the other party may serve cross questions and file them with the officer at any time prior to the time of the examination.

(iii) The parties may stipulate in writing or the ALJ may upon motion order that a deposition be taken by telephone. A deposition taken by telephone is to be taken at the place where the deponent is to answer questions propounded to the deponent.

(iv) The parties may stipulate in writing or the ALJ may upon motion order that a deposition be recorded by other than stenographic means. The stipulation or the order shall designate the manner of recording, preserving and filing of the deposition, and may include other provisions to assure that the recorded testimony is accurate and trustworthy.

(5) Certification by the officer. The officer shall certify on the deposition that the deponent was duly sworn and that the deposition is a true record of the deponent's testimony. The officer shall then securely seal the deposition, together with one copy thereof (unless there are more than two parties in the appeal, in which case there should be another copy for each additional party), in an envelope and mail the same by registered or certified mail to the Hearing Clerk.

(6) Corrections to the transcript. (i) At any time prior to the hearing, any party may file a motion proposing corrections to the transcript of the deposition.

(ii) Unless a party files such a motion in the manner prescribed, the transcript shall be presumed to be a true, correct, and complete transcript of the testimony given in the deposition proceeding and to contain an accurate description or reference to all exhibits in connection therewith, and shall be deemed to be certified correct without further procedure.

(iii) At any time prior to the use of the deposition in accordance with paragraph (a)(7) of this section and after consideration of any objections filed thereto, the ALJ may issue an order making any corrections in the transcript which the ALJ finds are warranted, and these corrections shall be entered onto the original transcript by the Hearing Clerk (without obscuring the original text).

(7) Use of depositions. A deposition ordered and taken in accordance with the provisions of this section may be used in an appeal under these rules if the ALJ finds that the evidence is otherwise admissible and

(i) That the witness is deceased;

(ii) That the witness is unable to attend or testify because of age, sickness, infirmity, or imprisonment;

(iii) That the party offering the deposition has endeavored to procure the attendance of the witness by subpoena, but has been unable to do so; or

(iv) That such exceptional circumstances exist as to make it desirable, in the interests of justice, to allow the deposition to be used. If the party upon whose motion the deposition was taken refuses to offer it in evidence, any other party may offer the deposition or any part thereof in evidence. If only part of a deposition is offered in evidence by a party, any other party may require the introduction of any other part which is relevant be considered with the part introduced, and any party may introduce any other parts.

(b) Interrogatories, requests for admissions and requests for production of documents—(1) Interrogatories. A party may submit written interrogatories to any other party to an appeal. The time for submitting and responding to written interrogatories shall be set by the ALJ at the pre-hearing conference, but in no event shall the time for response be less than 20 days from the date of service or within such time as determined upon motion to the ALJ. The number of interrogatories submitted by each party shall not exceed twenty-five questions including subparts, unless additional interrogatories are authorized by the ALJ. Each interrogatory should be answered separately and fully in writing, unless it is objected to, in which event the reasons for objection should be stated in lieu of an answer. The answers are to be signed under penalty of perjury by the person making them. Objections shall be signed by the attorney of record in the appeal or by the responding party's authorized representative.

(2) Request for admissions. A party may submit a written request for admission of the truth of any matters relevant to the appeal to any other party to the appeal. The time for submitting a written request for admission shall be set by the ALJ at the pre-hearing conference. The number of admissions contained in a request submitted by a party shall not exceed twenty-five unless additional admissions are authorized by the ALJ. The matter is admitted unless, within 20 days after service thereof, or within such time as determined upon motion to the ALJ, the party to whom the request is directed serves upon the party requesting the admission a written answer or objection addressed to the matter signed by the party, counsel or designated representative. If objection is made, the reasons therefor should be stated. The answer should specifically deny the matter or set forth in detail why the answering party cannot truthfully admit or deny the matter. An answering party may not give lack of information or knowledge as a reason for the failure to admit or deny unless it is stated that reasonable inquiry has been made and that the information known or readily obtainable is insufficient to enable the party to admit or deny. A party who considers that a matter for which an admission has been requested presents a genuine issue for hearing may not, on that ground alone, object to the request; the party may deny the matter or set forth reasons why the matter cannot be admitted or denied.

(3) Request for production of documents. (i) Any party may serve upon any other party to the appeal a request for production of documents which are in the possession or control of the party upon whom the request is served. The time for service and response to such a request shall be set by the ALJ at the pre-hearing conference. Upon payment of fees for search and duplication of documents, any party to the appeal may obtain copies of such documents.

(ii) Parties may request production of any documents regarding any matter, not privileged, which is relevant to the subject matter involved in the pending action. Grounds for objection will not exist if the information sought appears reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence.

(iii) If such documents include privileged information or information the disclosure of which is proscribed by the Food and Nutrition Act of 2008, as amended, such documents need not be produced.

(c) Supplementation of response. A party who knows or later learns that a response is incorrect is under a duty to correct such response as soon as possible. A party who has responded to a request for discovery with a response that was complete when made is under a duty to supplement the response to include information thereafter acquired. A party is under a duty to supplement responses with respect to any question directly addressed to:

(1) The identity and location of persons having knowledge of discoverable matters, and

(2) The identity of each person expected to be called as an expert witness at the hearing, the subject matter on which such expert(s) is expected to testify, and the substance of the testimony.

(d) Frequency and use of discovery. The ALJ shall limit, upon motion of a party, the frequency or extent of discovery if the ALJ determines that:

(1) The discovery sought is unreasonably cumulative or duplicative, or is obtainable from some other source that is more convenient, less burdensome, or less expensive;

(2) The party seeking discovery has had ample opportunity by discovery in the action to obtain the information sought; or

(3) The discovery is unduly burdensome or expensive, taking into account the needs of the case, the amount in controversy, limitations on the parties' resources, and the importance of the issues at stake in the litigation.

(e) Protective orders—(1) Request for protective order. A party served with such a request may file a motion for a protective order before the date on which a response to the discovery request is due, stating why discovery should be limited or should not be required.

(2) Issuance of protective order. In issuing a protective order, the ALJ may make any order which justice requires to protect a party or person from annoyance, embarrassment, oppression or undue burden or expense, including one or more of the following:

(i) That discovery not be had;

(ii) That the discovery may be had only through a method of discovery other than that requested;

(iii) That certain matters not be inquired into, or that the scope of discovery be limited to certain matters;

(iv) That discovery be conducted with no one present except persons designated by the ALJ; and

(v) That the contents of discovery or evidence be sealed.

(f) Failure to respond to discovery—(1) Motions to compel. If a deponent fails to respond or gives an evasive or incomplete answer to a question propounded at a deposition pursuant to paragraph (a) of this section or a party fails to respond or gives evasive or incomplete answers to written interrogatories or admissions, or fails to respond, in full or in part, to a request for production of documents served pursuant to paragraph (b) of this section, the party seeking discovery may apply for an order compelling an answer by filing and serving a motion on all parties and deponents.

(2) Filing motion to compel. (i) Such motion must be filed within 20 days following the service of the unresponsive answer upon deposition or within 20 days after expiration of the period allowed for answers to interrogatories or production of documents.

(ii) On matters related to an oral examination, the proponent of the question may complete or adjourn the examination before he applies for an order.

(3) Responding to motion to compel. A response to the motion may be filed in accordance with §283.18(d).

(g) Decision of the ALJ. (1) The ALJ may grant a motion to compel production or deny a motion for a protective order only if the ALJ finds that the discovery sought is necessary for the expeditious, fair, and reasonable consideration of the issues; it is not unduly costly or burdensome; it will not unduly delay the proceeding; and the information sought is not privileged.

(2) The initial decision of the ALJ regarding the motion to compel the production of privileged documents or the motion for a protective order shall become final and effective 10 days after service unless either party pursues the options as discussed in §§283.17(d) and 283.20.

(h) Failure to comply with an order. (1) If a party or other witness refuses to be sworn or refuses to answer any question after being directed to do so by order of the ALJ, such refusal may subject the refusing party to proceedings to compel compliance with the ALJ's order in the appropriate United States district court.

(2) If any party or other person refuses to obey an order made under this section requiring an answer to designated questions or production of documents, the ALJ may order that the matters regarding which questions were asked or the contents of the document or documents or any other designated facts should be taken to be established for the purposes of the proceeding in accordance with the claim of the party obtaining the order.

(i) Postponements or delays. No hearing, proceeding or other matter under this part shall be postponed or otherwise delayed pending the response or resolution of issues pertaining to a request for information pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act, 5 U.S.C. 552.

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