|Policy Title||Law and Suits|
|Responsible Office||Campus Attorney|
|Policy Type||Legal and Compliance|
|Last Revision Date||6/26/2020|
Litigation brought against the State, the University, their employees and officials will be handled by the University's legal counsel and the State Attorney General's office. The SUNY Procedures Manual #240, Small Claims Procedures, will be used for appropriate small claims ($0–5,000). All cases involving litigation will be handled in conformance with this procedure or based on proper legal advice.
- No statements concerning pending litigation should be provided by University employees or officials. Requests for information concerning pending litigation should be referred to the State Attorney General's office.
- Cooperate with investigators and legal staff assigned to investigate and gather evidence concerning the case from the Attorney General's office. Obtain verified acceptable identification from any person requesting information or consultation prior to providing such. If a person with pending litigation against the University requests access to their own files (Admissions, Financial Aid, EOP, Registrar, Student Accounts, Human Resources, or any other office with individual personnel files), the request must be in writing and you must contact the Associate Counsel's Office prior to providing any access. Note: The file should not include counselor or personal notes, comments of instructors, confidential correspondence or other documents which the individual has no right to view. If such items are inter-filed with a person's records, they should be removed prior to any review. All memoranda, which have previously been provided to the student or employee, can remain in the file. Questions concerning what information can be viewed should be made to the Associate Counsel's office. The file review must take place in the presence of the University Counsel or designee. Copies of the file can be made (a charge may be required).
- Claims against the University can be served personally or by mail only on certain University officers. For all such claims, the following persons are each authorized to accept service on behalf of the University: the Vice President for Operations, the Vice President for Student Affairs, the Vice President for External Affairs, the Vice President for Research, or the Provost. Any employee presented with documentation to be served against the institution should contact the Office of the Associate Counsel immediately and direct the person to the New York State Attorney General's office. All claims received against the institution must be immediately forwarded to the Office of the Associate Counsel. It is extremely important that the Attorney General know the method of the service, i.e., personal delivery, mail (provide envelope), left on desk, served on another person in the office, etc. The date of service is important as that date and time set the time for proper responses to the materials served. It is important to keep track of all details concerning the service of papers.
- If a service is being made for a claim against an individual employee of the institution personally for an activity, which is part of his/her job responsibility, they must be served individually. It is extremely important that the Attorney General know the method of the service, i.e., personal delivery, mail (provide envelope), left on desk, served on another person in the office, etc. The date of the service is important as that date and time set the time for proper responses to the material served. It is important to keep track of all details concerning the service of papers.
Section 17 of the New York State Public Officers Law requires that University officials being sued individually notify the State Attorney General's office within five (5) days of service requesting defense by the Attorney General's office. The letter should be sent by the University employee or official being sued, on their office letterhead, with the original papers served (retain a copy for your records). If this document is not sent, the Attorney General may not defend and/or indemnify an individual named on a lawsuit.
The same issues concerning service of claims also apply to the service of subpoenas. The Associate Counsel and the Attorney General's office need to know the method of service, time, place, etc. In all instances where subpoenas are received, contact the Office of the Associate Counsel. That office will provide counsel concerning a response.
Questions concerning legal issues may be directed to your appropriate vice president. University staff and volunteers must provide immediate notification to their supervisors if they receive legal processing and papers.