Requests for admission are the most effective, but least utilized, form of discovery. Interrogatories, document production requests and depositions are routinely used in civil litigation, but as few as ten percent of attorneys use requests for admission. Admissions have the potential to simplify legal and factual issues, expedite civil litigation, and reduce costs for clients, lawyers and taxpayers. Requests for admission have proven to be an effective discovery device in many types of civil actions,and nothing expedites discovery and brings the litigation to a head faster than requests for admission. Despite such enormous potential, Wisconsin trial lawyers have been extremely hesitant to use requests for admission, as evidenced by the number of reported decisions involving this potent form of discovery. This Article contains a comprehensive survey designed to educate practitioners, academicians, and students on the law of requests for admission in Wisconsin. The primary goal of this Article is to demonstrate that requests for admission are double-edged swords. On the one hand, they can be used by the requesting party to reduce the time and expense of civil litigation and, in some cases, even to achieve outright victory. On the other hand, the answering party faces virtual ruin if the requests are not responded to in a proper and timely fashion. Another goal of this Article is to prove that although the dangers associated with requests for admission are far greater than those of any other discovery device, it is a form of discovery that should be praised, not disparaged. This Article also has four secondary goals, which hopefully will be achieved as a by-product of its primary goals: (1) a disclosure of the fact that requests for admission are the most underutilized form of discovery; (2) an explanation of why this discovery tool is used so infrequently in civil litigation; (3) a demonstration of the enormous potential of requests for admission in Wisconsin civil litigation; and (4) an illustration of the hazards lawyers face if requests for admission are mishandled, including exposure to sanctions, malpractice liability and, in some instances, professional discipline.
78 Marq. L. Rev. 625 (1995)