What is a “discrete subpart”?
Rule 190 states that when counting the number of interrogatories propounded by an opponent, each discrete subpart of an interrogatory is considered a separate interrogatory. However, Texas courts haven’t provided any precise definition of the phrase “discrete subpart.” So how do you decide what a “discrete subpart” is? Unfortunately, this can be a difficult judgment call.
The most help comes from Comment 3 to Rule 190, which states that a “discrete subpart” is, in general, one that calls for information that is not logically or factually related to the primary interrogatory. In addition, the Webster’s Dictionary definition of “discrete” is “individually distinct,” “constituting a separate entity,” or “non-continuous.”
Thus, subparts that reasonably relate to the main interrogatory either logically or factually are not discrete subparts. In most cases, subparts reasonably relating to the main interrogatory are those that follow up the main interrogatory by asking additional details about the same topic. In contrast, subparts that seek information on a different topic are discrete subparts that should be counted as separate interrogatories. See, e.g. In Re Swepi, 103 S.W.3d 578 (Tex. App. – San Antonio 2003, orig. proceeding).
For example, an interrogatory asking for a list of places of employment could reasonably have the following non-discrete subparts: location of each place of employment, length of each employment, and amount of salary at each place of employment. However, a subpart asking about incidents of harassment at each place of employment would arguably be a new topic, and therefore a discrete subpart.
CAVEAT: Under new Rule 190.2(b)(3), each party in a Level I case is now limited to fifteen (15) interrogatories, so correctly counting the number of interrogatories is especially important in these cases.
Hope this helps, and “happy discovering”!