We generally hear from clients when they receive subpoenas for the production of documents on existing cases or claims that they are involved in as parties to a lawsuit. They’re put in touch with assigned defense counsel to guide them on the proper response to such requests. What can be much more of a concern, or potential risk, is the handling by clients of subpoenas for cases in which they are not a party or current defendant. Some tend to simply copy full files and send them out, not necessarily contemplating what that may bring for them in the future. Perhaps they mistakenly send information not related to the incident that precipitated the request at hand?
Too often, subpoenas/records requests are not scrutinized properly and are blindly given to someone in-house to respond to, without proper legal guidance on the parameters of the request or its origin. When this occurs the recipient may actually be sending too much information. Generally, a request for the production of documents has some limits/parameters as related to the case at hand. We strongly suggest that when a subpoena or records request is received, for claims where the recipient is not a defendant in the case, the entity contact their legal counsel to have them review the request. Counsel can provide guidance on what they’re required to send and may want to contact the requesting party to determine the nature of the case and whether the recipient is a potential defendant.
Author: Stephen P. Friend, CPCU, AIC, Vice President- Claims