This matter comes before the court on motions by two codefendants in a personal injury action. The suit arose out of a motor vehicle accident at the Shore Mall parking lot in Cardiff, New Jersey, that rendered the plaintiff a paraplegic.
Defendant Joint Business Adventure (a/k/a Shore Mall Shopping Center) seeks to have plaintiff's requests for admissions stricken. Codefendant Evantash and Friedman, architects, seek to compel the designation of books, treatises and authorities to be relied upon by plaintiff at trial. They also request information that plaintiffs may have acquired respecting their expert. The motions will be discussed serially.
The motion to strike is based upon defendant Joint Business Adventure's assertion that the questions set forth are irrelevant, immaterial and incompetent. Additionally, defendant feels that the requests were merely intended as harassment.
A perusal of plaintiff's request for admissions reveals question which concern facts about prior accidents occurring at the same location. More particularly, the questions seek facts which, if admitted, are relative to issues of defective parking lot design, negligent design and dangerous conditions and notice thereof. The 14 requests for admissions appear to be straightforward, not overly lengthy and are within defendant's own knowledge. The objection is focused upon their relevance.
R. 4:22-1 provides in part:
A party may serve upon any other party a written request for the admission, for purposes of the pending action only, of the truth of any matters of fact
within the scope of R. 4:10-2 set forth in the request, including the genuineness of any documents described in the request . . .
Requests for admissions are not discovery devices to ascertain relevant facts. They were designed to ascertain an adversary's position with respect to these facts. Klimowich v. Klimowich , 86 N.J. Super. 449 (App.Div.1965). The purpose of the rule is to facilitate trial by weeding out facts about which there is no true controversy but which are often difficult or expensive to prove. Williams v. Marziano , 78 N.J. Super. 265 (Law Div.1963); Hunter v. Erie R.R. Co. , 43 N.J. Super. 226 (Law Div.1956).
R. 4:22-1 is similarly patterned upon F.R.C.P. 36, as amended in 1970. The Advisory Committee Notice to the amended R. 36 stated:
Rule 36 serves two vital purposes, both of which are designed to reduce trial time. Admissions are sought, first to facilitate proof with respect to issues that cannot be eliminated from the case, and secondly, to narrow the issues by eliminating those that can be. [ Moore's Federal Practice , Vol. 4a § 36.01(7) (2d ed. 1978)].
The effect of an admission is conclusively established unless the court permits a withdrawal or amendment of the admission. R. 4:22-2, F.R.C.P. 37. Failure to admit the truth of any matter wherein the requesting party proves the truth of such matter may entitle that party to reasonable ...