Close Close

Your Missouri Courts Header Image

Clerk Handbooks

Supreme Court Rules

Section/Rule:56.01
Subject: Rule 56 - Rules of Civil Procedure - Rules Governing Civil Procedure in the Circuit Courts - General Provision Governing Discovery Publication / Adopted Date:March 29, 1974
Topic:General Provision Governing DiscoveryRevised / Effective Date:January 1, 2010


56.01. General Provisions Governing Discovery

(a) Discovery Methods. Parties may obtain discovery by one or more of the following methods: depositions upon oral examination or written questions; written interrogatories; production of documents or things or permission to enter upon land or other property, for inspection and other purposes; physical and mental examinations; and requests for admission.

(b) Scope of Discovery. Unless otherwise limited by order of the court in accordance with these rules, the scope of discovery is as follows:

(1) In General. Parties may obtain discovery regarding any matter, not privileged, that is relevant to the subject matter involved in the pending action, whether it relates to the claim or defense of the party seeking discovery or to the claim or defense of any other party, including the existence, description, nature, custody, condition and location of any books, documents or other tangible things and the identity and location of persons having knowledge of any discoverable matter.

It is not ground for objection that the information sought will be inadmissible at the trial if the information sought appears reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence.

The party seeking discovery shall bear the burden of establishing relevance. (2) Insurance Agreements. A party may obtain discovery of the existence and contents, including production of the policy and declaration page, of any insurance agreement under which any person carrying on an insurance business may be liable to satisfy part or all of a judgment that may be entered in the action or to indemnify or reimburse for payments made to satisfy the judgment. Information concerning the insurance agreement is not by reason of disclosure admissible in evidence at trial. For purposes of this Rule 56.01(b)(2) an application for insurance shall not be treated as part of an insurance agreement.

(3) Trial Preparation: Materials. Subject to the provisions of Rule 56.01(b)(4), a party may obtain discovery of documents and tangible things otherwise discoverable under Rule 56.01(b)(1) and prepared in anticipation of litigation or for trial by or for another party or by or for that other party's representative, including an attorney, consultant, surety, indemnitor, insurer, or agent, only upon a showing that the party seeking discovery has substantial need of the materials in the preparation of the case and that the adverse party is unable without undue hardship to obtain the substantial equivalent of the materials by other means. In ordering discovery of such materials when the required showing has been made, the court shall protect against disclosure of the mental impressions, conclusions, opinions, or legal theories of an attorney or other representative of a party concerning the litigation.

A party may obtain without the required showing a statement concerning the action or its subject matter previously made by that party. For purposes of this paragraph, a statement previously made is: (a) a written statement signed or otherwise adopted or approved by the person making it, or (b) a stenographic, mechanical, electrical, audio, video, motion picture or other recording, or a transcription thereof, of the party or of a statement made by the party and contemporaneously recorded.

(4) Trial Preparation: Experts. Discovery of facts known and opinions held by experts, otherwise discoverable under the provisions of Rule 56.01(b)(1) and acquired or developed in anticipation of litigation or for trial, may be obtained only as follows:

(5) Trial Preparations: Non-retained Experts. A party, through interrogatories, may require any other party to identify each non-retained expert witness, including a party, whom the other party expects to call at trial who may provide expert witness opinion testimony by providing the expert's name, address, and field of expertise. For the purpose of this Rule 56.01(b)(5), an expert witness is a witness qualified as an expert by knowledge, experience, training, or education giving testimony relative to scientific, technical or other specialized knowledge that will assist the trier of fact to understand the evidence. Discovery of the facts known and opinions held by such an expert shall be discoverable in the same manner as for lay witnesses. (6) Approved Interrogatories and Request for Production. A circuit court by local court rule may promulgate 'approved' interrogatories and requests for production for use in specified types of litigation. Each such approved interrogatory and request for production submitted to a party shall be denominated as having been approved by reference to the local court rule and paragraph number containing the interrogatory or request for production.

(c) Protective Orders. Upon motion by a party or by the person from whom discovery is sought, and for good cause shown, the court may make any order which justice requires to protect a party or person from annoyance, embarrassment, oppression, or undue burden or expense, including one or more of the following:

(1) that the discovery not be had;

(2) that the discovery may be had only on specified terms and conditions, including a designation of the time or place;

(3) that the discovery may be had only by a method of discovery other than that selected by the party seeking discovery;

(4) that certain matters not be inquired into, or that the scope of the discovery be limited to certain matters;

(5) that discovery be conducted with no one present except persons designated by the court;

(6) that a deposition after being sealed be opened only by order of the court;

(7) that a trade secret or other confidential research, development, or commercial information not be disclosed or be disclosed only in a designated way;

(8) that the parties simultaneously file specified documents or information enclosed in sealed envelopes to be opened as directed by the court.

If a motion for a protective order is denied in whole or in part, the court may, on such terms and conditions as are just, order that any party or person provide or permit discovery. The provisions of Rule 61.01 apply to the award of expenses incurred in relation to the motion.

(d) Sequence and Timing of Discovery. Unless the court upon motion, for the convenience of parties and witnesses and in the interests of justice, orders otherwise, methods of discovery may be used in any sequence and the fact that a party is conducting discovery, whether by deposition or otherwise, shall not operate to delay any other party's discovery.

(e) Supplementation of Responses. A party is under a duty seasonably to amend a prior response to an interrogatory, request for production, or request for admission if the party learns that the response is in some material respect incomplete or incorrect and if the additional or corrective information has not otherwise been made known to the other parties during the discovery process or in writing.

(f) Stipulations Regarding Discovery Procedure. Unless the court orders otherwise, the parties may by written stipulation (1) provide that depositions may be taken before any person at any time or place, upon any notice, and in any manner and when so taken may be used like other depositions, and (2) modify the procedures provided by these Rules for other methods of discovery. Any stipulation under subdivision (2) shall be filed.

(Adopted March 29, 1974, eff. Jan. 1, 1975. Amended by L.1989, S.B. No. 127 et al., eff. Aug. 28, 1989; amended June 16, 1989, eff. Jan. 1, 1990; June 1, 1993, eff. Jan. 1, 1994; Sept. 28, 1993, eff. Jan. 1, 1994; Sept. 26, 1995, eff. July 1, 1996; June 25, 2001, eff. Jan. 1, 2002; June 21, 2002, eff. Jan. 1, 2003. Amended December 22, 2009, effective July 1, 2010.)