Wayne State University

Aim Higher

Lawsuits & Subpoenas

Q: My Department has been served with a lawsuit. What should I do?

A: Contact the OGC immediately. The University must respond to lawsuits within a specified time period after it has been served. It is imperative that you notify the OGC as soon as you are served so we can review the matter and respond in a timely manner. Do not discuss the lawsuit or the actions leading up to the lawsuit with third parties, especially with the other side or the attorney representing the other side.

Q: I’ve been personally named as a defendant in a lawsuit. I was only doing my job. Will the University defend me?

A: It is the University’s policy to defend and indemnify employees who are sued because of their good faith efforts to perform their responsibilities of employment. An employee personally named as a defendant in a lawsuit should contact the OGC immediately.

Q: I’ve been served with a subpoena. What should I do?

A: Contact the OGC immediately. A subpoena is an order of the court. It may command you to appear at a specified date, time and location to testify; or, a subpoena may command you to produce certain documents. In either case you should contact the OGC immediately. It is important to let an attorney from the OGC review the subpoena to determine the University’s rights and responsibilities for compliance. Do not ignore a subpoena, even if it addresses something you are unfamiliar with or asked for documents you do not have. Failure to respond to a subpoena could result in you or the University being held in contempt of court.

Q: What happens if I am sued in connection with University business?

A: The University normally will provide you with a defense in the event you are sued personally for acts and omissions arising out of, or performed during the course and scope of, your employment by the University.

Q: Does it matter if I have left University employment at the time I am sued?

A: No, the University’s defense and indemnification practices depend on whether the conduct at issue occurred in the course and scope of your employment, not whether you continue to be employed by the University.

Q: What should I do if someone tries to serve me with a summons or complaint addressed to the University?

A: You are not authorized to accept service on behalf of the University, the Board or the President. Refer the person who is attempting to serve you to the OGC. If the Summons or other official document is addressed to you and relates to your University employment, then personal service is required and you can accept service. You should then immediately notify the OGC so that an appropriate response can be made.

Q: What should I do if someone tries to serve me with a subpoena?

A: If a process server attempts to serve you with a subpoena for University records, then if possible he/she should be re-directed to the OGC. If it is not possible, then notify the OGC that you have been served.  If the subpoena is addressed to you and relates to your University employment, then personal service is required and you can accept service. You should then notify your supervisor and the OGC (577-2268) so that you can receive guidance on how to respond.

 

-- updated June, 2011