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Taking 30(b)(6) depositions for family court cases

Since few family court cases involve corporate or government agencies as witnesses or parties, family law attorneys rarely consider the benefits of noticing a deposition pursuant to Rule 30(b)(6), SCRCP.  Under this provision, rather than naming an individual witness to be deposed:

 A party may in his notice and in a subpoena name as the deponent a public or private corporation or a partnership or association or governmental agency and describe with reasonable particularity the matters on which examination is requested. In that event, the organization so named shall designate one or more officers, directors or managing agents, or other persons who consent to testify on its behalf, and may set forth, for each person designated, the matters on which he will testify. A subpoena shall advise a non-party organization of its duty to make such a designation. The persons so designated shall testify as to matters known or reasonably available to the organization. This subdivision (b)(6) does not preclude taking a deposition by any other procedure authorized in these rules.

Thus, when attempting to get information from a public or private corporation or a partnership or association or governmental agency, one can serve the notice of deposition and simply describe the matters upon which one wants to question that business or agency.  It is up to that business or agency to determine which witness or witnesses will be produced to be deposed on the requested matters.

The advantage of a 30(b)(6) deposition is that the answers are the answers of that business or agency, rather than the answers of an individual witness.  I took my first family court 30(b)(6) deposition yesterday, asking the South Carolina Department of Social Services (DSS) to produce witnesses into its investigation, procedures, and recommendations.  If I had noticed the deposition of the DSS caseworker and superviser, the answers could have been used to impeach these witnesses but weren’t binding on DSS.  By noticing the deposition under 30(b)(6), DSS was bound by the answers its designated witnesses provided.

When trying to get information from a business or public agency, rather than subpoenaing individual witnesses, it can be advantageous to notice a 30(b)(6) deposition.

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