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Still Using General Objections? See How One Party’s Use Led to Waiver

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This week, we’re delving into the post-2015 landscape of discovery objections and the critical lessons from Bocock v. Innovate Corp., a case that serves as a stark reminder of the perils of general objections and the importance of specificity in responses.

In the heart of our discussion lies a decision from the Delaware Chancery Court, presided over by Vice Chancellor Paul Fioravanti. This case, while unpublished, sheds light on the evolving standards for discovery objections and the severe consequences of failing to adhere to them.

The crux of the matter arose from a motion to compel discovery responses, where defendants argued that plaintiffs had waived all their objections due to their failure to adequately respond to discovery requests. The timeline of events, spanning from the filing of the complaint to the plaintiffs’ belated and insufficient response efforts, paints a picture of missed deadlines and the fallout from a collective seven-page response filled with general objections but devoid of any specific objections to individual requests for production.

Delving into the Court’s Analysis:

The Court’s meticulous examination of this case sheds light on the imperative for specific objections in the wake of the 2015 amendments. It scrutinized the plaintiffs’ collective response, which was riddled with boilerplate objections and devoid of any substantive answers, flagging this approach as insufficient under the updated rules.

Moreover, the plaintiffs’ subsequent arguments, attempting to justify their non-compliance, were met with skepticism by the Court. These included the anticipated filing of an amended complaint and the logistical challenges of coordinating discovery among multiple plaintiffs. However, these arguments did not sway the Court, which emphasized the unchanged obligations of the plaintiffs to provide timely and specific discovery responses, regardless of the number of parties involved or the state of case scheduling orders.

In a pivotal part of its decision, the Court grappled with the concept of privilege waiver due to general objections. Here, the Court trod carefully, acknowledging the harshness of declaring a blanket waiver of attorney-client privilege. It highlighted that typically, a general objection on grounds of privilege would be accompanied by a detailed privilege log, a step the plaintiffs failed to take. Ultimately, while sparing the plaintiffs from a privilege waiver, the Court made it clear that all other objections were waived, attributing this to the plaintiffs’ failure to comply with their discovery obligations in a timely and specific manner.

Key Takeaways:

  1. Early Engagement is Crucial: For legal practitioners, especially those handling cases with multiple plaintiffs, this case underscores the importance of early and proactive discovery planning. Waiting until the eleventh hour to address discovery can lead to insurmountable obstacles and compromise the integrity of the case.
  2. Specificity is Non-Negotiable: The era of general objections in discovery is unequivocally over. The 2015 amendments demand precision, and failure to comply can lead to the waiver of crucial objections. This case exemplifies the judiciary’s dwindling patience for non-specific objections and the severe implications for parties and counsel alike.
  3. Privilege Preservation Requires Diligence: While the court stopped short of declaring a waiver of privilege, the narrow escape experienced by the plaintiffs in Bocock v. Innovate Corp. should not be misconstrued as leniency. It’s a clear signal that maintaining privilege necessitates meticulous care in crafting objections and responses.
  4. Costs and Consequences: Beyond the immediate directive to comply with discovery requests, the ruling also highlights the financial ramifications of noncompliance. The plaintiffs were ordered to bear the motion costs, reinforcing the principle that unfounded or poorly justified discovery practices can have tangible financial consequences.


The Bocock v. Innovate Corp. decision is yet another example of how parties need to be aware of the 2015 changes to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 34 that require specific objections to a written discovery response. Failure to abide by the change may result in waiver of objections that may cripple a matter.

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Kelly Twigger
Kelly Twigger is a practicing attorney, software developer, consultant, writer, and speaker on issues in electronic discovery, the development and implementation of legal technology, and how to effectively use data in planning for and during litigation.

She is a co-author of Electronic Discovery and Records and Information Management, and host of Case of the Week at eDiscovery Assistant. As Principal at ESI Attorneys, Kelly manages the boutique eDiscovery and information law firm that acts as operational business partners with its clients to advise law firms, corporations, and municipalities on all areas of electronic information including eDiscovery, privacy, cybersecurity, and information governance.

Kelly is also the CEO of eDiscovery Assistant — a SaaS-based practical resource for litigators handling eDiscovery — that curates discovery decisions, rules, and additional content. She is developing an online academy to provide on-demand education for lawyers and legal support professionals to stay abreast of changes in the law and technology that affect litigation and clients’ obligations to respond.

You can reach Kelly at [email protected], join her Facebook community group at Let’s Talk eDiscovery, or connect with her on Twitter @kellytwigger.

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