One of the challenges with commercial litigation involving big companies is that knowledge of the business, and how it operates, is often spread across many different individuals. The CFO may understand finances, while the CEO understands operations, along with many others in between.
This creates difficulty for parties when conducting depositions. When you or your opposing party are limited to a certain number of depositions, it can be difficult to choose who within a company to depose. In order to address this problem, the law has created the 30(b)(6) deposition. 30(b)(6) is the rule under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. A similar rule is enacted by the Iowa state courts under rule 1.707(5).
What Is A 30(b)(6) deposition?
A 30(b)(6) deposition is a deposition of a designated corporate representative. That individual is tasked with learning about all of the issues within his company that the opposing party wants to know about. He or she can then be deposed on those issues and topics.
Because 30(b)(6) depositions require representatives to speak about topics that they might not have first-hand knowledge of, a 30(b)(6) deposition can require extensive preparation.
Gathering Information on the Topics in a 30(b)(6) Notice
A corporate representative need not have exhaustive knowledge about every aspect of company’s business. Indeed, for large companies, this would be virtually impossible. Instead, parties that wish to take a 30(b)(6) deposition must provide a notice that lists the topics that they would like to cover.
Once this initial notice is provided, a company may make objections if they believe the scope of certain topics is too broad, or if they find some topics irrelevant to the case at issue. Once these issues are negotiated and the topics finalized, the corporate witness must then begin to gather information to prepare for the deposition.
Preparing a Witness for a 30(b)(6) Deposition
After the topics for a 30(b)(6) deposition have been confirmed, and a corporate representative selected, the company must begin the intensive process of preparing the representative for the deposition.
Many times, a representative will have some personal knowledge of certain topics to be covered, but almost no knowledge of other areas. He or she must be brought up to speed on issues that are relevant to the litigation and prepped to give the answers that the corporation wants to give. Preparation typically involves:
- Talking with other company employees about their knowledge
- Reviewing relevant corporate documents
- Reviewing pleadings relevant to the case
- Interviewing individuals to obtain the information needed
Depending on the breadth of topics to be covered, this process can take weeks or even months to finalize, which means that corporations must get started as soon as possible.
While representatives may understandably forget certain details at their deposition, or express uncertainty about a position, they cannot claim lack of knowledge altogether. The company is obligated to provide a witness who has full knowledge of the topics at issue and the failure to do so can result in sanctions.
Experienced Iowa Business Litigation Attorney Jonathan D. Schmidt Working With You To Prep For Depositions
If you are involved with a corporation that is considering filing a lawsuit, or a defendant in a pending business litigation matter, there is a very good chance that you may be asked to participate in a 30(b)(6) deposition.
While 30(b)(6) depositions are nothing to fear, they do require a commitment to preparation and an organized effort to gather the knowledge of the company. Knowledgeable Iowa business litigator Jonathan D. Schmidt has extensive experience with 30(b)(6) depositions and can assist you in this process. To find out more about how he can help, contact us online or at (319) 423-3031.