Office of Legal Counsel
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Lawsuits and Claims

Office of Legal Counsel's Role:  Will the Office of Legal Counsel personally represent students/faculty/staff?

Service of a Lawsuit: Someone is asking me to accept service of a lawsuit?  What should I do?

Summons or Service of Complaint:  What is a summons or service of a complaint?

Subpoena: I have been subpoenaed to be a witness. What should I do?

Subpoena For Documents:  I have received a subpoena to turn over documents (subpoena duces tecum) relating to University business.  What should I do?

Subpoena regarding a Criminal Action:  What do I do with a subpoena regarding a criminal action?

Deposition:  What is a deposition?

Deposition Subpoena:  What is a deposition subpoena?      

To serve a Subpoena:  Where do I serve a subpoena at the University?

Process Server:  What is a process server?

Custodian of Records:  What is a custodian of records?

Legal Issues Regarding The University Of Memphis:  If a lawyer calls me about a case or issue involving the University, what should I do?

Automobile Accident:  I was involved in a car accident on campus.  What should I do?

Filing a Claim for Injury and/or Property Damage:  I suffered an injury and/or property damage on the campus.  How do I file a claim against the University?

Length of the Claim Process: How long will the claims process take? 

Reporting Crime:  I witnessed a crime on campus and I want to report the crime but remain anonymous.   What should I do?

Theft: Something has been stolen from me while I was on campus. What should I do?

Safety Concerns:   I'm concerned for my personal safety on campus.  What do I do?

Confidentiality: Is my conversation with a member of the Legal Counsel Office confidential?


Office of Legal Counsel's Role:  Will the Office of Legal Counsel personally represent students/faculty/staff?

Not unless the legal matter is related to your employment at the University or a University sponsored event or activity.  You can consult with the Office of Legal Counsel regarding University legal matters related to University business but please understand that the Office of Legal Counsel represents the University's interests, not an individual's interest if you are proceeding against the University.  You are responsible for hiring your own attorney to handle personal legal matters.

 If you need help finding an attorney go to other legal resources.

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Service of a Lawsuit: Someone is asking me to accept service of a lawsuit?  What should I do?

Only the State Attorney General's Office is authorized to accept service of a lawsuit on behalf of the University.  The State Attorney General is located at:

State of Tennessee
Office of Attorney General
425 Fifth Avenue, 2nd Floor
Nashville, Tennessee 37243
(615) 741-3491

No one else should accept service of a lawsuit on behalf of the University.

If you are being named individually (not in your official capacity) in a lawsuit as a defendant or respondent, you can accept service on your own behalf.  If the lawsuit involves the University in any way (even if it was not named as a defendant or respondent or if you were not served on its behalf), please transmit a copy of the complaint and summons to the Office of Legal Counsel immediately.

If the lawsuit does not have anything to do with the University, you may want to consult a personal attorney.

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Summons or Service of Complaint:  What is a summons or service of a complaint?

 A summons is an order of the court for a person to respond to a lawsuit that has been filed against that person.  Service of a complaint simply means that a �complaint� (a legal document which initiates a lawsuit) has been formally provided to the person or entity being sued.

Only the Attorney General of the State of Tennessee may accept service of a summons or complaint on behalf of The University of Memphis or its employees who are sued in their official capacities.

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Legal Representation:  I have been sued.  Will the University represent me?

In most, although not all, instances, if you are being sued because of your work at The University of Memphis, you will be represented by the University.

 If you are being sued because of personal activities, the University will not represent you.  The University cannot recommend a specific lawyer to you, but there are many lawyer referral services in the area.  If you have any additional questions, you may contact the Office of Legal Counsel.

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Subpoena: I have been subpoenaed to be a witness. What should I do?

If you have been subpoenaed in connection with activities at the University, please contact the Office of Legal Counsel.  If you have been subpoenaed in connection with personal activities, consult your personal lawyer.

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Subpoena For Documents:  I have received a subpoena to turn over documents (subpoena duces tecum) relating to University business.  What should I do?

Except as to subpoenas handled regularly by Human Resource, Payroll and the Registrar's Office (which should be referred directly to those offices or entities), you should not turn over documents relating to the University without first consulting with the Office of Legal Counsel.  You should, however, insure that any documents described in the subpoena are maintained for possible production.

 If  you or your office has University documents responsive to the subpoena, you should immediately contact the Office of Legal Counsel and forward them a copy of the subpoena and documents

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Subpoena regarding a Criminal Action:  What do I do with a subpoena regarding a criminal action?

Such subpoenas often require the attendance of an individual to testify in court, before a Grand Jury, or other legally empowered body.

 If a subpoena is received and you are the named individual, you must accept.  Notify the Office of Legal Counsel if the subject matter of the testimony will be related to your position with the University of if TBR or the University is involved. Advise your supervisor.  If you have any questions, refer the questions to the Office of Legal Counsel.

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Deposition:  What is a deposition?

 A deposition is a statement made under oath by a witness that is written down or recorded by a court reporter for use in court or during the discovery phase of a lawsuit.

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Deposition Subpoena:  What is a deposition subpoena?                          

 A deposition subpoena is an order directed to a person requiring his or her appearance at a specific place and time to testify as a witness at a deposition.

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To serve a Subpoena:  Where do I serve a subpoena at the University?

 If the subpoena seeks the appearance of a witness, it should be served on the person whose testimony is sought.  If the subpoena seeks documents (a subpoena duces tecum), it should be served on the person or department that is responsible for the records sought.

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Process Server:  What is a process server?

 A process server is an individual who serves a subpoena.  A process server can be a governmental official (including employees of the FBI, Secret Service, police or sheriff's department) or a person employed by an attorney or attorney service.

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Custodian of Records:  What is a custodian of records?

 A custodian of records is a person or institution that has charge or custody of documents, papers, property or other valuables.

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Legal Issues Regarding The University Of Memphis:  If a lawyer calls me about a case or issue involving the University, what should I do?

Refer them to the Office of Legal Counsel and notify the Office of Legal Counsel of the contact.

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Automobile Accident:  I was involved in a car accident on campus.  What should I do?

 You should report the accident to Police Services at 678-4357. 

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Filing a Claim for Injury and/or Property Damage:  I suffered an injury and/or property damage on the campus.  How do I file a claim against the University?

Anyone wishing to file a claim for injury or property damages against The University of Memphis where the University was negligent must do so through the Tennessee Claims Commission, which was established for the purpose of processing personal injury and property damage against agencies of the state of Tennessee including The University of Memphis.  Any and all claims for negligence will be handled by claims examiners working through the Division of Claims Administration in Nashville.

Claim packets, which contain a claim form as well as copies of the applicable state law describing the Claims Commission and the procedure for filing claims, are available at notice of claim or in the Office of Legal Counsel, 201 Administration Building.

 For most claims based in negligence, there is a statute of limitations for submitting a claim to the Tennessee Claims Commission of one (1) year from the date of the accident. 

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Length of the Claim Process: How long will the claims process take?                 

The Division of Claims Administration investigates and makes every effort to act upon each claim within ninety (90) days of the date of submission.  However, in most cases, the process does not take that long.  Most claims are acted upon in a matter of weeks.  The claimant will be notified directly of the disposition of each claim.  If there are any questions regarding the status of a claim, the claimant may call the Claims Commission.  The contact information for the Tennessee Claims Commission is provided on the cover sheet of the claim packet.

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Reporting Crime:  I witnessed a crime on campus and I want to report the crime but remain anonymous.   What should I do?

 You are encouraged to report any crime to Police Services at 678-4357.  If you want to maintain anonymity, you may report the crime by going to http://www.memphis.edu/police/, click on forms, and then click on silent witness report.

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Theft: Something has been stolen from me while I was on campus. What should I do?

 Please report the loss to Police Services at 678-3848.

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Safety Concerns:   I'm concerned for my personal safety on campus.  What do I do?

If there is an immediate threat to your safety or the safety of others, you should immediately call Police Services at 678-4357 or 911.  For non-emergencies, please call Police Services at 678-3848.

 If you need a personal escort on campus in the evening, contact the Tiger Patrol at 678-4663.

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Confidentiality: Is my conversation with a member of the Legal Counsel Office confidential?

 The University's attorneys have a duty to represent the University, and do not act as private lawyers for individuals on campus. Generally speaking, however, they are ethically bound not to disclose confidential University matters to persons outside the University's ambit unless ordered to do so by a court or when physical harm is threatened. Within the University walls, members of the Legal Counsel staff also strive to work with discretion and sensitivity at all times. Their obligations to the University as a client may require that they advise University personnel or officials, outside the Legal Counsel office, regarding certain confidential matters. The University's lawyers will typically advise the individual who has made the disclosure if such a consultation is required or appropriate.

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Office of Legal Counsel
201 Administration Building
The University of Memphis
Memphis, TN 38152-3370
Tel: (901) 678-2155
Fax: (901) 678-3489
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Last Updated: 1/10/13