Think You Can Ignore “Late” RFAs? Think Again!

In the recent case of Monolith Companies LLC v Hunter Douglas Hospitality Inc., September 24, 2015, A15A1096, the Georgia Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court’s grant of summary judgment to Hunter Douglas based on Monolith’s failure to respond to requests for admission (RFAs) which were sent after the discovery deadline.

When Monolith failed to respond to Hunter Douglas’ RFAs, including a request that Monolith admit that it was indebted to Hunter Douglas in the sum $23,860, Hunter Douglas filed a motion for summary judgment. The trial court granted the motion and Monolith appealed, arguing that because the RFAs were sent after the close of discovery it was not required to respond.

The Court explained that the “admission that arises from a failure to respond to a request for admission in the required timeframe arises by operation of law, without the necessity for court action.” Id. In grating summary judgment, “the trial court simply gave effect to the admission that resulted from Monolith’s failure to object or respond to the request for admission.” Id.

The Court had little sympathy for Monolith’s position:

[w]hen Monolith received Hunter Douglas’ requests for admission, it could have availed itself of various options to assert its position that they were untimely. It might have served objections referencing the expiration of the discovery period or moved for a protective order for example. Later, Monolith could have moved to withdraw its admissions, but it did not do so. As Monolith “did not avail itself of any of the variety of responses available under O.C.G.A. § 9-11-36 and chose not to seek the liberal remedies afforded to parties under the statue to avoid the consequences of a failure to respond, . . . the subject matter of Hunter Douglas’ requests for admission stood admitted.”The bottom line: if you think you have been served requests for admission outside of the discovery period, you have to affirmatively assert that position by taking some action (object, file a motion for protective order, etc.).