This feature originally appeared in the October 27th edition of the Pittsburgh Business Times.
Q: My company (or an employee of my company) was just served with a subpoena in a lawsuit that we are not a party to. Why did we receive this and what should we do next?
Advice: If you or your company has been served with a subpoena in a lawsuit you are not a party to, it probably means that one of the parties to that lawsuit believes that you have documents or information relevant to their case. A subpoena is the legal mechanism by which a party to a lawsuit can obtain documents or information from a non-party that they believe may be related to their lawsuit. The subpoena may request documents, an inspection of property or real estate, or attendance at a deposition, court hearing or trial.
The first thing you should do if you are served with such a subpoena is READ IT CAREFULLY AND DON’T IGNORE IT. Once you or your company have been served with a subpoena, you are legally obligated to either comply with the subpoena or provide a valid and legal reason to the requesting party and possibly the Court as to why you cannot or should not be required to comply. If you fail to comply with a valid subpoena, you may be subject to serious legal sanctions.
Once you review the subpoena, I recommend you contact an experienced commercial litigation attorney to help you assess whether you have any responsive information and whether you have valid, legal reasons to oppose the subpoena.