Dealing with Nonparty Document Requests


By: Ze’eva Kushner
As an executive or business owner, at some point you may receive a request to produce documents relating to your business from a party to a lawsuit that does not involve your company.  There are a variety of potential issues that you should consider once this lands on your desk.
The Georgia Civil Practice Act allows parties to a lawsuit to serve requests for production of documents on nonparties as part of the process of gathering information relevant to the subject matter of the case.  (O.C.G.A. § 9-11-34 (c)).  Ordinarily, your deadline to respond to such a request falls 33 days after the request was put in the mail or emailed to you.  But what happens if the request is mailed to your company’s registered agent, and he or she does not get it to you in time for you to gather the documents and respond by the deadline?
Although you, as a nonparty, have an obligation to respond or object to the request for documents by the deadline, the party who sent you the request cannot just run to court if you miss the deadline to obtain an order compelling you to produce the documents.  Instead, they have to make a good faith effort to work with you regarding any issue or dispute stemming from the document requests.  This means that you should expect a phone call from the attorney to find out the reason for the delay.
When you receive the call from the attorney who requested the documents, it is a good opportunity to discuss the types of documents that are being sought, potentially narrowing the topics and thus reducing your burden.  Additionally, you may request reimbursement of reasonable copying costs and additional time to produce the documents.
If you have any questions or would like more information, please contact Ze’eva Kushner at