Western University of Health Sciences

Policies & Procedures

Policy: Summons and Complaints, Subpoenas and Other Legal Documents
Policy Information

Title: Summons and Complaints, Subpoenas and Other Legal Documents

Responsible Department: University Risk Management

Policy Contact

Magsino, Chique Lingao

Director of Risk Management


Policy Dates

Effective Date: 2008-07-10

Next Review Date: 2018-06-30

Approval Date: 2015-11-20 15:37:22.0

Review History:

Reviewed/revised 6/24/11

Policy Statement

It is the policy of WesternU to provide specific guidelines for personnel (Administrators, Faculty and Staff) to follow when presented with documents, e.g., subpoenas for medical records, court appearances, notice of legal actions for which the university, an employee, or student is named.

Purpose of Policy

To facilitate prompt and appropriate university response to served legal documents. It ensures that all legal requirements are met and that University General Counsel, University Risk Management, and appropriate University administrators are notified in a timely manner in order to protect the University’s interest.

Related Policy Information


From time to time, the University is served with official legal documents that require immediate action. Examples include subpoenas to produce copies of a variety of records in court proceedings, health insurance and worker compensation related matters, as well as summons and complaints notifying the University that a lawsuit has been filed against it. If such documents are received, personnel should contact the department listed in the table below as soon as possible due to deadlines associated with these documents. Some legal documents must be reviewed by General Counsel before any response is made.


Requested Documents

General Counsel

Compliance Office

Registrar’s Office

Employee Records




Requests or Subpoenas for Medical Records




Student Academic Records




Summons and Complaints




University Records





If General Counsel is not available to receive the documents named in the table above, they should be Hand-Delivered the to the University Risk Management Office and/or University Compliance Office. If the documents cannot be immediately hand delivered as noted above, they should be placed in safe keeping until they can be delivered by hand.


Legal notices are sometimes addressed to the University itself or to individually named officials of the University. It is important for all University personnel to be aware of the appropriate course of action to take if approached by a “process server” with official legal documents.  Departments most likely to receive legal notices are the University Financial Services and Treasury, Human Resources, University Student Affairs and the Patient Care Center.


By following the protocol provided in this policy, personnel will facilitate prompt review of such documents by General Counsel, and/or by the appropriate department who will assist in determining the validity of the document and the appropriate response on behalf of the University.



Personnel should not communicate the details regarding the receipt and/or any response to such legal notices to anyone without a legitimate need to know in accordance with this University policy. Inappropriate disclosure of certain official legal documents or contacts to individuals without a legitimate need to know may result in disciplinary action up to and including termination of employment.



Upon receipt of any legal notice personnel must:

1.   indicate name of the person who first accepted the papers.

2.   mark the first page with the date and time of service/receipt;

3.   indicate the method of delivery (US mail, email, fax or personal);

All summons and complaints, subpoenas, and other legal documents involving the University must be HAND-DELIVERED to General Counsel, and/or the appropriate department as named above the same day they are received. Due to the sensitivity and confidentiality of such documents DO NOT USE INTER-OFFICE MAIL.



General Counsel will review documents related to summons and complaints, notice to produce university records (not medical records), and employee records. General Counsel will also be responsible for providing the appropriate response on behalf of the University. University Risk Management and appropriate University administrators will be notified based on the type of document(s) served. Once an appropriate response has been determined, the appropriate individuals or departments will prepare an inventory of records requested in the legal document.  They may also consult with General Counsel as needed. 


When the University is Named in a Summons and Complaint or Lawsuit

·      If service of a summons and complaint or lawsuit is attempted in person by a process server, DO NOT ACCEPT SERVICE! Decline the acceptance and refer the process server to the Office of General Counsel. Notify General Counsel by calling 909-469-5465 (or extension 5465). Only General Counsel may accept service of summons and complaints or lawsuits on behalf of the University. However, if the process server insists on leaving the documents, personnel should indicate on a memorandum the date and time he/she accepted service and hand-deliver the documents to the Office of General Counsel as soon as possible. if General Counsel is not available HAND-DELIVER the documents to University Risk Management or University Compliance Office.

·      A summons or request for medical records should be hand delivered to the University Compliance Office, Department of Medical Records.


When Both the University and an Employee is Named in a Summons and Complaint or lawsuit

·      If the process server attempts to serve an employee who is personally named in a summons and compliant and/or lawsuit along with the University, the named employee may accept service of the Summons and Complaint and/or lawsuit only on his/her behalf. The named employee should indicate on a memorandum the time and date he/she was served or received the complaint and hand deliver that information together with a copy of the complaint to the Office of General Counsel.

·      Documents are to be HAND-DELIVERED to General Counsel General Counsel will review the documents and determine the appropriate response on behalf of the University and copies of the documents will be provided to the appropriate university personnel when indicated.


IMPORTANTIf the named individual is not available DO NOT ACCEPT SERVICE! Only the named individual can accept service. Never give the Process Server any personal information about another employee, such as an employee’s home address, telephone number, or email address.

·      For service of a summons and complaint on the University, the process server must be referred to the Office of General Counsel. Only General Counsel may accept service on behalf of the University. No other University official is authorized to accept service of process on the University’s behalf. General Counsel will notify University Risk Management or the University Compliance Office and provide a copy of the document.


When Faculty or Staff Employees Alone are Named in a Summons and Complaint or Lawsuit

·      Work-Related: naming the employee based on the employee’s conduct within the course and scope of his/her employment with the University; the employee is to accept the complaint and contact the University Vice President; General Counsel and University Risk Management will then be notified.

·      Non-Work-Related: naming the employee and is based on his/her conduct outside of the course and scope of his/her employment with the University, the employee is to act on his/her own behalf without involving the University (e.g. notice of divorce, personal injury lawsuit).

IMPORTANTIf the named individual is not available DO NOT ACCEPT SERVICE! Only that individual can accept service. Never give the Process Server any personal information about another employee, such as an employee’s home address, telephone number, or email address.


Subpoenas For University Records

·      Subpoenas for University records may be served on an individual (employee), by name or title, or on a department or office. The subpoena can be received by mail service, fax or personal service. The individual or department subpoenaed should contact either University General Counsel at 909-469-5465; University Risk Management at 909-469-5452; and/or University Compliance Office at 909-706-3871to discuss compliance with the subpoena.

·      The subpoena will indicate the date all documents must be received by the requesting individual/organization. The University must keep a record of both the subpoena and any records produced. The recipient of the subpoena must coordinate with the appropriate department (e.g., University General Counsel, University Risk Management, and University Compliance Office) before releasing any requested documents.

·      Employment Records - Subpoenas requesting employment records of faculty and staff personnel should be directed to the University’s Vice President. A copy should be forwarded to University General Counsel.

·      Student Records - The Registrar's Office may respond to valid subpoenas seeking transcripts only. Subpoenas seeking "any and all" records maintained by the University or subpoenas seeking additional records maintained by other departments should be hand-delivered to General Counsel for review and disposition.



The University must respond to subpoenas, summons and court orders within a specified time period after the documents are received. It is imperative that personnel notify the Office of General Counsel/University Risk Management/University Compliance Office as soon as he/she is served, so that the matter can be reviewed and responded to in a timely manner. The documents will be reviewed to determine the University’s rights and responsibilities for compliance.



Custodian of Records - The person in charge of a department's records. When a subpoena has been served, this person must sign an affidavit concerning the authenticity of the records.

Medical Records: health records that are developed by healthcare providers and staff that are protected under HIPAA regulations and can only be produced under certain situations (see HIPAA policy for more information).

Personnel - Administrators, Faculty and Staff

Process Server - An individual person who delivers notices to an individual or organization of a legal action or proceeding.

·      Types of service: personal service (i.e. legal papers are hand-delivered to the individual to be served); and mail service or fax (i.e. legal papers are mailed or faxed  to the individual or organization to be served)

Subpoena - A writ (a formal written letter) issued by a government agency that has authority to compel testimony by a witness or production of evidence, the agency most often a court, can levy a penalty against the university for failure to comply as ordered.

Summons and Complaint - Legal documents that are used to initiate a lawsuit.

University Records - Include but not limited to: minutes, correspondence; memoranda; financial records, such as invoices, journals, ledgers, purchase orders; published materials, including reports and newsletters; moving images and photographs; and computer data or other machine readable electronic records, including electronic mail.


Minor Revision