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Defense of Notice or Summons/Complaint in Lawsuit

In the event a state employee has been named in either a Notice of Claim or Summons and Complaint (lawsuit) in a civil action or civil proceeding, Wisconsin statutes mandate defense by the Attorney General and full cooperation in the defense by the employee/defendant. This is set forth in Wisconsin Statute 893.82 and 895.46 (attached). Wisconsin Statute 893.82 deals with the mandate of the Attorney General to investigate and compromise claims and sec. 895.46 relates to defense of litigation by the Attorney General and the duty of the employee/defendant to cooperate in the defense of the case.

The Director of Risk Management and Safety serves as a liaison between the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater and University of Wisconsin System Legal Department, System Risk Management, State Risk Management and the Department of Justice whenever legal action is served against officials of the institution regarding actions taken while acting within their scope of employment. Legal actions may include Notice of Claim and Summons and Complaints (lawsuits).

Notice of Claim

If an individual wishes to sue a state employee or agent, a Notice of Claim must be filed within 120 days from the event which caused the injury, damage, etc. The claim must be sworn to by the claimant and served upon the Attorney General by certified mail. This action provides the Attorney General with adequate time to investigate claims which might result in judgements to be paid by the state and an opportunity to effect a compromise without a civil action or civil proceeding (lawsuit).

Notification of receipt of a Notice of Claim by the Attorney General will be sent to the Risk Management Department on campus with a request to investigate the claim. The Risk Management Department will in turn notify the individual named as a defendant in the action. Communications between an employee/defendant and the Department of Justice staff are confidential. Do not discuss the case with co-workers or staff as these discussions may be inquired in to during the discovery process.

The Department of Justice attorney assigned the case will be in contact with the employee/defendant. The names, addresses and telephone numbers, both work and home, of all persons named in the Notice of Claim as well as witnesses are crucial to the Department of Justice. Provide all documents/records pertaining to the legal action to the Department of Justice through the Risk Management Department. Cooperate to the fullest in the defense of the case.

Summons and Complaint (Lawsuit)

Summons and complaint (lawsuits) are served (delivered) by a process server, sheriff or police official to the individual named in the lawsuit. Only the person(s) named in the lawsuit admit service (accept) on the Summons and Complaint. A signature is required in acknowledgment of the summons. DO NOT accept a Summons and Complaint for another person.

The Attorney General's Office has requested that named defendants in federal cases, not sign acknowledgments of service. It is the Attorney General's preference that the acknowledgment form be forwarded, unsigned and undated, to the Department of Justice, Civil Litigation Unit, Attn: Corey Finkelmeyer, 123 W. Washington Avenue, Madison, WI 53708. The reason for this request is that the time for answering the complaint begins to run when the defendant served signs the acknowledgment form and returns it to the court. The answer must be filed within twenty days thereafter. The Assistant Attorney General assigned to the case will acknowledge service for the defendants. By following this procedure, the Attorney General will have more time to answer the complaint.

In either case, once the Summons and Complaint has been served, follow the steps below:

  1. Contact the Risk Management and Safety Office at 472-1856 or Vice Chancellor for Administrative Affairs, 472-1922.

  2. Deliver the original document to the Risk Management Office, Hyer 330 as soon as possible. The original will be sent to the Department of Justice and copies to the Chancellor, Provost and UW-System Legal Counsel. A Department of Justice attorney will be assigned to the case.

  3. Communications between an employee/defendant and the Department of Justice staff are confidential. DO NOT discuss the case with co-workers or staff as these discussions may be inquired into during the discovery process of the case.

  4. The Department of Justice Attorney assigned the case will be in contact with the employee/defendant. The names and addresses and telephone numbers, both home and work, of all persons named in the lawsuit as well as witnesses are crucial to the Department of Justice.

  5. Provide all documents/records pertaining to the legal action to the Department of Justice.

  6. Cooperate with the Department of Justice to the fullest in the defense of the case.