It can be frustrating to get caught up in someone else’s lawsuit. But that is exactly what happens when your business is served with a subpoena for documents and/or deposition testimony for a lawsuit in which you are not a party.
Subpoenas can be served personally, and in some cases via certified or registered mail. They must be accompanied by a witness fee and mileage. Even if the subpoena is not properly served, some courts require recipients to respond if they have actual knowledge of it.
Although different courts have different procedures governing subpoenas, there are common characteristics. A subpoena for discovery can require the production of documents and data. It can require a person to appear at a deposition and provide testimony under oath. Or it can require both.
Subpoenas issued to a business or an organization may describe certain subjects. The business is then required to designate to produce a witness who will testify under oath on those subjects.
Upon receiving a subpoena, a business should (i) ensure that potentially responsive documents and data is not inadvertently overwritten or destroyed; (ii) calendar any deadlines for objections (for example, Federal Courts allow 14 days to serve objections to document requests); and (iii) develop a strategy for responding to the subpoena..
Subpoenas often impose a huge burden on their recipients, both in the time and expense of collecting, reviewing and producing documents, and in the time it takes to prepare for and appear at a deposition. For this reason, timely serving objections and/or filing a motion for a protective order with the Court is key to protecting the recipient’s rights. As a practical matter, however, the scope and burden of a subpoena can be negotiated to make it manageable for the recipient.
ASG Law has experience helping business clients navigate the proper response to a subpoena.