Process of Service During COVID-19 Pandemic

During the COVID-19 public health emergency, all legal documents to be served on the Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System should be emailed to:

If you have questions, please send an email or call 608-262-2995.

Service of Lawsuits, Subpoenas, or Other Legal Documents

Definitions:

Service of Process – the formal method of delivering legal documents to parties named in a lawsuit or legal proceeding.  Service of process may happen by U.S. Mail, fax, email, or in-person delivery by a sheriff or process server.

Subpoena – legal document requiring a person to testify, present information, or disclose documents in a legal proceeding.

Summons – written notice (often accompanied by a complaint) which notifies parties a lawsuit has been filed and sets the date of the first court appearance.

Complaint – the document filed to begin a lawsuit which identifies the involved parties, the reason for filing the lawsuit, and the compensation or relief sought.

The Importance of Service of Process

The U.S. Constitution provides for due process including the guarantee of a fair trial. The first step in providing a fair trial is notifying all parties involved of the lawsuit and the grounds for filing the lawsuit. The notification process is knowns as “process of service.” Each state has its own rules about how to properly serve a lawsuit. “Service of process” is important because it notifies the defendant of the charges against them and gives them time to prepare a defense. It also allows the court to determine whether it has the jurisdiction or legal authority to make a ruling on the lawsuit. Poor or incorrect service may cause a lawsuit to be dismissed. If any UW institution needs to file a lawsuit, the Office of General Counsel will handle the process of service. The FAQs cover how to respond if the University or any of its employees are served with a lawsuit (or are compelled to testify).

Frequently Asked Questions

I received a visit from the sheriff or process server asking me to accept service of a complaint in connection with a lawsuit related to my university duties.  What should I do?

If you are: Procedure:
not individually named in the lawsuit Do NOT accept service.  Refer them to the OGC
named individually in a lawsuit related to your position at the University
  • Contact the OGC to accept service on your behalf

or

  • Accept the documents without signing anything and send them to the OGC
served or receive a copy of a summons and complaint relating to your position at the University Keep all the original documents and contact the OGC immediately

I received a letter, email, or fax requesting me to accept service of a complaint in connection with a lawsuit related to my university duties.  What should I do?

Email the documents to counsel@uwsa.edu.  Your email should include any documentation about the date, time, and method of receipt of service.  Do not sign any acknowledgement or waiver of service.  If contacted about receipt of the documents, you can confirm you received the documents and forwarded them to your legal counsel.

If I am served with a summons and complaint, should I sign the acknowledgement or waiver of service form that comes with it?

No.  Do not sign an acknowledgement or waiver of service form.

Instead, gather the original complaint and the unsigned acknowledgment or waiver and forward them to the OGC immediately. We will forward the document(s) to the Office of Attorney General and request representation for the named defendant.

  • Reasoning: The time for filing a response to a complaint is very short. In federal cases, the deadline is 20 days from when the acknowledgment is signed and returned to the court. University employee defendants are entitled to representation provided by the Office of Attorney General, but the process for securing representation can take several days, which means signing and returning the acknowledgment or waiver can substantially reduce the amount of time the Assistant Attorney General handling the case has to respond. Therefore, the Office of Attorney General should be the one to sign and return the acknowledgment or wavier to ensure they have the full 20 days to respond.

I received a “subpoena duces tecum” asking me to turn over university-related documents.  How do I respond?

Contact the OGC immediately.  Do not turn over any documents or respond unless directed to by the OGC.  The OGC can help you gather the appropriate documents, make objections, and when necessary, seek a protective order to preserve the confidentiality of certain documents.

I received a subpoena to appear as a witness for a deposition or in court.  What should I do?

If the subpoena:
involves your duties or activities at the University Contact the OGC immediately
is unrelated to the University or your University duties Contact your personal attorney

  • If you don’t already have an attorney, the State Bar of Wisconsin (800-362-9082) can help you find one.