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§ 2.705 Discovery--additional methods.

(a) Discovery methods. Parties may obtain discovery by one or more of the following methods: depositions upon oral examination or written interrogatories (§ 2.706); interrogatories to parties (§ 2.706); production of documents or things or permission to enter upon land or other property, for inspection and other purposes (§ 2.707); and requests for admission (§ 2.708).

(b) Scope of discovery. Unless otherwise limited by order of the presiding officer in accordance with this section, 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 proceeding, whether it relates 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. When any book, document, or other tangible thing sought is reasonably available from another source, such as at the NRC Web site, http://www.nrc.gov, and/or the NRC Public Document Room, sufficient response to an interrogatory on materials would be the location, the title and a page reference to the relevant book, document, or tangible thing. In a proceeding on an application for a construction permit or an operating license for a production or utilization facility, discovery begins only after the prehearing conference and relates only to those matters in controversy which have been identified by the Commission or the presiding officer in the prehearing order entered at the conclusion of that prehearing conference. In such a proceeding, discovery may not take place after the beginning of the prehearing conference held under § 2.329 except upon leave of the presiding officer upon good cause shown. It is not a ground for objection that the information sought will be inadmissible at the hearing if the information sought appears reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence.

(2) Upon his or her own initiative after reasonable notice or in response to a motion filed under paragraph (c) of this section, the presiding officer may set limits on the number of depositions and interrogatories, and may also limit the length of depositions under § 2.706 and the number of requests under §§ 2.707 and 2.708. The presiding officer shall limit the frequency or extent of use of the discovery methods otherwise permitted under these rules if he or she determines that:

(i) The discovery sought is unreasonably cumulative or duplicative, or is obtainable from some other source that is more convenient, less burdensome, or less expensive;

(ii) The party seeking discovery has had ample opportunity by discovery in the proceeding to obtain the information sought; or

(iii) The burden or expense of the proposed discovery outweighs its likely benefit, taking into account the needs of the proceeding, the parties' resources, the importance of the issue in the proceeding, and the importance of the proposed discovery in resolving the issues.

(3) Trial preparation materials. A party may obtain discovery of documents and tangible things otherwise discoverable under paragraph (b)(1) of this section and prepared in anticipation of or for the hearing by or for another party's representative (including his 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 this case and that he 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 presiding officer shall protect against disclosure of the mental impressions, conclusions, opinions, or legal theories of an attorney for a party concerning the proceeding.

(4) Claims of privilege or protection of trial preparation materials. When a party withholds information otherwise discoverable under these rules by claiming that it is privileged or subject to protection as trial preparation material, the party shall make the claim expressly and shall describe the nature of the documents, communications, or things not produced or disclosed in a manner that, without revealing information itself privileged or protected, will enable other parties to assess the applicability of the privilege or protection. Identification of these privileged materials must be made within the time provided for disclosure of the materials, unless otherwise extended by order of the presiding officer or the Commission.

(5) Nature of interrogatories. Interrogatories may seek to elicit factual information reasonably related to a party's position in the proceeding, including data used, assumptions made, and analyses performed by the party. Interrogatories may not be addressed to, or be construed to require:

(i) Reasons for not using alternative data, assumptions, and analyses where the alternative data, assumptions, and analyses were not relied on in developing the party's position; or

(ii) Performance of additional research or analytical work beyond that which is needed to support the party's position on any particular matter.

(c) Protective order. (1) Upon motion by a party or the person from whom discovery is sought, accompanied by a certification that the movant has in good faith conferred or attempted to confer with other affected parties in an effort to resolve the dispute without action by the presiding officer, and for good cause shown, the presiding officer 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:

(i) That the discovery not be had;

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

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

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

(v) That discovery be conducted with no one present except persons designated by the presiding officer;

(vi) That, subject to the provisions of §§ 2.709 and 2.390, a trade secret or other confidential research, development, or commercial information not be disclosed or be disclosed only in a designated way; or

(vii) That studies and evaluations not be prepared.

(2) If the motion for a protective order is denied in whole or in part, the presiding officer may, on such terms and conditions as are just, order that any party or person provide or permit discovery.

(3) In the case of documents and records including Safeguards Information referred to in Sections 147 and 181 of the Atomic Energy Act of 1954, as amended, the presiding officer may issue an order requiring disclosure if—

(i) The presiding officer finds that the individual seeking access to Safeguards Information in order to participate in an NRC proceeding has the requisite ‘‘need to know,’’ as defined in 10 CFR 73.2;

(ii) The individual has undergone an FBI criminal history records check, unless exempt under 10 CFR 73.22(b)(3) or 73.23(b)(3), as applicable, by submitting fingerprints to the NRC Office of Administration, Security Processing Unit, Mail Stop T–6E46, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Washington, DC 20555–0001, and otherwise following the procedures in 10 CFR 73.57(d) for submitting and processing fingerprints. However, before a final adverse determination by the NRC Office of Administration on an individual’s criminal history records check is made, the individual shall be afforded the protections provided by 10 CFR 73.57; and

(iii) The NRC Office of Administration has found, based upon a background check, that the individual is trustworthy and reliable, unless exempt under 10 CFR 73.22(b)(3) or 73.23(b)(3), as applicable. In addition to the protections provided by 10 CFR 73.57 for adverse determinations based on criminal history records checks, the Office of Administration must take the following actions before making a final adverse determination on an individual’s background check for trustworthiness and reliability. The Office of Administration will:

(A) For the purpose of assuring correct and complete information, provide to the individual any records, in addition to those required to be provided under 10 CFR 73.57(e)(1), that were considered in the trustworthiness and reliability determination;

(B) Resolve any challenge by the individual to the completeness or accuracy of the records described in § 2.705(c)(3)(iii)(A). The individual may make this challenge by submitting information and/or an explanation to the Office of Administration. The challenge must be submitted within 10 days of the distribution of the records described in § 2.705(c)(3)(iii)(A), and the Office of Administration must promptly resolve any challenge.

(iv) Individuals seeking access to Safeguards Information to participate in an NRC adjudication for whom the NRC Office of Administration has made a final adverse determination on trustworthiness and reliability may submit a request to the Chief Administrative Judge for review of the adverse determination. Upon receiving such a request, the Chief Administrative Judge shall designate an officer other than the presiding officer of the proceeding to review the adverse determination. For purposes of review, the adverse determination must be in writing and set forth the grounds for the determination. The request for review shall be served on the NRC staff and may include additional information for review by the designated officer. The request must be filed within 15 days after receipt of the adverse determination by the person against whom the adverse determination has been made. Within 10 days of receipt of the request for review and any additional information, the NRC staff will file a response indicating whether the request and additional information has caused the NRC Office of Administration to reverse its adverse determination. The designated officer may reverse the Office of Administration’s final adverse determination only if the officer finds, based on all the information submitted, that the adverse determination constitutes an abuse of discretion. The designated officer’s decision must be rendered within 15 days after receipt of the staff filing indicating that the request for review and additional information has not changed the NRC Office of Administration’s adverse determination.

(4) The presiding officer may include in an order any protective terms and conditions (including affidavits of nondisclosure) as may be necessary and appropriate to prevent the unauthorized disclosure of Safeguards Information.

(5) When Safeguards Information protected from unauthorized disclosure under Section 147 of the Atomic Energy Act of 1954, as amended, is received and possessed by anyone other than the NRC staff, it must also be protected according to the requirements of § 73.21 and the requirements of § 73.22 or § 73.23 of this chapter, as applicable.

(6) The presiding officer may also prescribe additional procedures to effectively safeguard and prevent disclosure of Safeguards Information to unauthorized persons with minimum impairment of the procedural rights which would be available if Safeguards Information were not involved.

(7) In addition to any other sanction that may be imposed by the presiding officer for violation of an order issued pursuant to this paragraph, violation of a provision for the protection of Safeguards Information from unauthorized disclosure that is contained in an order may be subject to a civil penalty imposed under § 2.205.

(8) For the purpose of imposing the criminal penalties contained in Section 223 of the Atomic Energy Act of 1954, as amended, a provision for the protection of Safeguards Information from unauthorized disclosure that is contained in an order issued pursuant to this paragraph is considered to be issued under Section 161b of the Atomic Energy Act of 1954, as amended.

(d) Sequence and timing of discovery. Except when authorized under these rules or by order of the presiding officer, or agreement of the parties, a party may not seek discovery from any source before the parties have met and conferred as required by paragraph (f) of this section, nor may a party seek discovery after the time limit established in the proceeding for the conclusion of discovery. Unless the presiding officer 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, does not operate to delay any other party's discovery.

(e) Supplementation of responses. A party who responded to a request for discovery with a response is under a duty to supplement or correct the response to include information thereafter acquired if ordered by the presiding officer or, with respect to a response to an interrogatory, request for production, or request for admission, within a reasonable time after a 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) Meeting of parties; planning for discovery. Except when otherwise ordered, the parties shall, as soon as practicable and in any event no more than thirty (30) days after the issuance of a prehearing conference order following the initial prehearing conference specified in § 2.329, meet to discuss the nature and basis of their claims and defenses and the possibilities for a prompt settlement or resolution of the proceeding or any portion thereof, to make or arrange for the disclosures required by § 2.704, and to develop a proposed discovery plan.

(1) The plan must indicate the parties' views and proposals concerning:

(i) What changes should be made in the timing, form, or requirement for disclosures under § 2.704, including a statement as to when disclosures under § 2.704(a)(1) were made or will be made;

(ii) The subjects on which discovery may be needed, when discovery should be completed, and whether discovery should be conducted in phases or be limited to or focused upon particular issues;

(iii) What changes should be made in the limitations on discovery imposed under these rules, and what other limitations should be imposed; and

(iv) Any other orders that should be entered by the presiding officer under paragraph (c) of this section.

(2) The attorneys of record and all unrepresented parties that have appeared in the proceeding are jointly responsible for arranging and being present or represented at the meeting, for attempting in good faith to agree on the proposed discovery plan, and for submitting to the presiding officer within ten (10) days after the meeting a written report outlining the plan.

(g) Signing of disclosures, discovery requests, responses, and objections. (1) Every disclosure made in accordance with § 2.704 must be signed by at least one attorney of record in the attorney's individual name, whose address must be stated. An unrepresented party shall sign the disclosure and state the party's address. The signature of the attorney or party constitutes a certification that to the best of the signer's knowledge, information, and belief, formed after a reasonable inquiry, the disclosure is complete and correct as of the time it is made.

(2) Every discovery request, response, or objection made by a party represented by an attorney must be signed by at least one attorney of record in the attorney's individual name, whose address must be stated. An unrepresented party shall sign the request, response, or objection and state the party's address. The signature of the attorney or party constitutes a certification that to the best of the signer's knowledge, information, and belief, formed after a reasonable inquiry, the request, response, or objection is:

(i) Consistent with these rules and warranted by existing law or a good faith argument for the extension, modification, or reversal of existing law;

(ii) Not interposed for any improper purpose, such as to harass or to cause unnecessary delay or needless increase in the cost of litigation; and

(iii) Not unreasonable or unduly burdensome or expensive, given the needs of the case, the discovery already had in the case, the amount in controversy, and the importance of the issues at stake in the litigation.

(3) If a request, response, or objection is not signed, it must be stricken unless it is signed promptly after the omission is called to the attention of the party making the request, response, or objection, and a party shall not be obligated to take any action with respect to it until it is signed.

(4) If a certification is made in violation of the rule without substantial justification, the presiding officer, upon motion or upon its own initiative, shall impose upon the person who made the certification, the party on whose behalf the disclosure, request, response, or objection is made, or both, an appropriate sanction, which may, in appropriate circumstances, include termination of that person's right to participate in the proceeding.

(h) Motion to compel discovery. (1) If a deponent or party upon whom a request for production of documents or answers to interrogatories is served fails to respond or objects to the request, or any part thereof, or fails to permit inspection as requested, the deposing party or the party submitting the request may move the presiding officer, within ten (10) days after the date of the response or after failure of a party to respond to the request, for an order compelling a response or inspection in accordance with the request. The motion must set forth the nature of the questions or the request, the response or objection of the party upon whom the request was served, and arguments in support of the motion. The motion must be accompanied by a certification that the movant has in good faith conferred or attempted to confer with other affected parties in an effort to resolve the dispute without action by the presiding officer. Failure to answer or respond may not be excused on the ground that the discovery sought is objectionable unless the person or party failing to answer or respond has applied for a protective order pursuant to paragraph (c) of this section. For purposes of this paragraph, an evasive or incomplete answer or response will be treated as a failure to answer or respond.

(2) In ruling on a motion made under this section, the presiding officer may issue a protective order under paragraph (c) of this section.

(3) This section does not preclude an independent request for issuance of a subpoena directed to a person not a party for production of documents and things. This section does not apply to requests for the testimony or interrogatories of the NRC staff under § 2.709(a), or the production of NRC documents under §§ 2.709(b) or § 2.390, except for paragraphs (c) and (e) of this section.

[73 FR 63568, Oct. 24, 2008; 77 FR 46597, Aug. 3, 2012]

Page Last Reviewed/Updated Thursday, July 25, 2013