7 CFR 47.20 - Documentary procedure.
(a) In general. The documentary procedure described in this section shall, whenever it is applicable as provided in paragraph (b) of this section, take the place and serve in lieu of the oral hearing procedure hereinbefore provided. Under the documentary procedure, the pleadings of the parties, if verified in accordance with paragraph (h) of this section, and any report of investigation filed with the Hearing Clerk pursuant to § 47.7 will be considered as evidence in the proceeding. Under the shortened procedure, the pleadings of the parties, if verified in accordance with paragraph (h) of this section, and any report of investigation filed with the Hearing Clerk pursuant to § 47.7, will be considered as evidence in the proceeding. In addition, the parties may submit written proof in support of the complaint, answer, or reply, as the case may be, in the form of verified statements or depositions. After the close of the evidence, the parties may file briefs.
(b) When applicable -
(1) Where damages claimed do not exceed $30,000. The documentary procedure provided for in this section shall (except as provided in § 47.15(a)) be used in all reparation proceedings in which the amount of damages claimed, either in the complaint or in the counterclaim, does not exceed $30,000 (excluding interest).
(2) Where damages claimed exceed $30,000. In any proceeding in which the amount of damages claimed, either in the complaint or in the counterclaim, is greater than $30,000 (excluding interest), the examiner, whenever he or she is of the opinion that proof may be fairly and adequately presented by use of the documentary procedure provided for in this section, shall suggest to the parties that they consent to the use of such procedure. Parties are free to consent to such procedure if they choose, and declination of consent will not affect or prejudice the rights or interests of any party. A party, if he or she has not waived oral hearing, may consent to the use of the documentary procedure on the condition that depositions rather than affidavits be used. In such case, if the other party agrees, depositions shall be required to be filed in lieu of verified statements. If any party who has not waived oral hearing does not consent to the use of the documentary procedure, the proceeding will be set for oral hearing. The suggestion that the documentary procedure be used need not originate with the examiner. Any party may address a request to the examiner asking that the documentary procedure be used.
(c) Complainant's opening statement. Within twenty (20) days after service of respondent's answer, complainant may file a verified opening statement, accompanied by any pertinent documents, which documents must be identified in the statement. If the answer is verified, complainant's evidence concerning the allegations of the answer should be included in the opening statement.
(d) Respondent's answering statement. Within twenty (20) days after service of complainants' opening statement or service of notice by the examiner that complainant has not filed an opening statement, respondent may file a verified answering statement, accompanied by any pertinent documents, which documents must be identified in the statement.
(e) Complainant's statement in reply. If respondent files an answering statement, complainant may, within twenty (20) days after service thereof upon complainant, file a verified statement in reply, accompanied by any pertinent documents, which documents must be identified in the statement.
(f) Use of depositions in lieu of verified statements. Depositions may be used in lieu of verified statements under paragraphs (c), (d), and (e) of this section.
(g) Briefs. Promptly after the conclusion of the presentation of evidence, the examiner shall notify the parties that they may file briefs within twenty (20) days after the receipt of such notice.
(h) Verification. Verification shall be made under oath of any facts set forth in the pleading or statement, by the person who signs the pleading or statement. Certification by a notary public is insufficient. The form of verification may be as follows:
__________, being first duly sworn, says that he (or she) has read the foregoing document and knows the contents thereof and that the facts set forth therein are true, except as to matters therein stated on information and belief, and as to such matters he believes them to be true, and that he (or she) is duly authorized to sign the document.
Subscribed and sworn to before me this ___ day of ________, 19__.
(i) Stipulations. In addition to or in lieu of the statements referred to in this section, the parties may file with the Hearing Clerk stipulations of fact signed by the parties or their representatives. Such stipulations filed with the Hearing Clerk shall become a part of the record.
(j) Waiver of right to file. Failure to file, within the time prescribed, any document authorized by this section shall constitute a waiver of the right to file such document.
(k) The examiner's report. Within a reasonable time after the time allowed for filing briefs, the examiner shall prepare his or her report in the manner prescribed in § 47.19(d).
(l) Assignment for oral hearing. Whenever it is deemed desirable or necessary for the proper disposition of the proceeding, the examiner, upon his or her own or any party's motion, may order the proceeding set down for oral hearing at any stage of the proceeding.