An interrogatory is an official request for information during the discovery phase of a lawsuit. You will receive this request in a case where a creditor is suing you for an unpaid debt. If the court rules for the creditor, and that creditor then attempts to collect by garnishing your wages, your employer will receive an interrogatory request. In both cases, answering within a specified time frame -- usually 30 days -- is mandatory.
Identify the Plaintiff
Identify the plaintiff before you start answering questions. This matters because the plaintiff might be a third-party collection agency, not the original creditor and not the company to which you owe the original debt. According to MassLegalHelp.org, a division of Massachusetts Legal Aid, if you do not recognize or never specifically agreed to pay the plaintiff, you should not agree you that you owe the debt.
Answer Questions Exactly
Provide no more or no less information than a question specifically asks for. Unlike with a request for admission, which requires that you either admit or deny certain facts, a pre-judgment interrogatory asks questions that are more general in nature but still designed to help a creditor win their case. For example, follow the Civil Law Self-Help Center’s recommendation that you provide short, clear and direct answers, and do not include information about an expected annual pay raise if a question asks you to provide information about your current income.
Exercise Your Right to Object
Object to questions that are vague, ambiguous or offensive. However, while you do have the right to lodge a formal objection, you must provide a reason and then answer as much as of the question as you can while still preserving your rights. For example, if you feel that a question such as “Please describe your current financial position” is too vague to answer adequately, say “I object that this interrogatory is vague. Without waiving this objection and to the extent I understand this question, my current financial position is poor.”
Tips and Recommendations
If you are unsure about how to answer or object to a question, get help from a legal professional. You must sign a verification page stating that each answer is truthful and correct to the best of your knowledge, and intentionally inaccurate or false statements are a punishable offense. MassLegalHelp.org recommends that you format the answers to interrogatory questions by retyping the question exactly as it’s asked and then providing the answer directly below.