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Asea, Inc. v. Southern Pac. Transp. Co.

United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
669 F.2d 1242 (9th Cir. 1981)


The Los Angeles Department of Water & Power bought an electrical transformer from New York corporation, Asea, Inc. (Asea) (plaintiff). The transformer was transported from the Swedish manufacturer Asea A/B to Los Angeles by ship, at which point Southern Pacific Transportation Co. and Harbor Belt Line (the railroads) (defendants) took custody and shipped it by rail to North Hollywood, California. The transformer was damaged in transit. Asea sued the railroads in federal court under diversity jurisdiction for negligence, breach of warranty, and violations of a California statute. Discovery lasted over a year. Asea served requests for admissions on the railroads, as permitted by Federal Rule of Civil Procedure (FRCP) 36(a), largely related to when and how the transformer was damaged. The railroads provided form responses to 18 requests, stating that after reasonable inquiry, the railroads could neither admit nor deny the matters. The railroads answered the accompanying interrogatories as “(n)ot applicable.” Asea later concluded that the railroads had known what happened to the transformer and should have admitted or denied the requests. Asea moved to have the requests deemed admitted. The railroads gave unsatisfactory answers at a hearing, and the district court granted Asea’s motion.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Wallace, J.)

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