The First Department noted that the failure to respond to defendant-Mazal’s demands for production waived any objections to the demands. Mazal’s motion to compel discovery therefore was properly granted. However objections to demands which are palpably improper are not waived by a failure to respond and Mazal’s demand for tax returns may be in the palpably-improper category. Mazal’s motion to compel the production of tax returns should therefore have been denied. But the First Department denied that portion of the motion to compel without prejudice and granted leave to renew if Mazal can make the required showing of need:
The motion court providently deemed the appealing parties’ objections waived under CPLR 3122 as a result of their failure to respond timely to Mazal’s demands for production … . We modify, however, with respect to Mazal’s demands for the appealing parties’ tax returns, as objections to “palpably improper” demands are not waived … .
A demand for the production of tax returns is disfavored and requires “a strong showing of necessity,” and the inability to obtain the information from other sources … . Here, the failure “to identify the particular information the tax returns . . . will contain and its relevance to the claims made” … should have been sufficient to deny Mazal’s motion to compel. Indeed, the tax returns were not necessary to determine whether plaintiffs acquired an interest in the properties in 1994 or retained it thereafter — the reason the motion court gave for granting the motion. However, Mazal argues that the tax returns could be relevant to its affirmative defenses of laches, estoppel, waiver, ratification, and consent, and the motion court did not pass on this issue. As a result, although Mazal did not sufficiently show the inability to obtain the information sought from other sources or, indeed, what specific information the appealing parties’ tax returns will show, we grant leave to renew upon a proper showing … . Demurjian v Demurjian, 2020 NY Slip Op 03479, First Dept 6-18-20