Lawsuits and Litigation FAQs

LITIGATION AND LAWSUITS (for website)

Will the university defend me if I am sued for something that I allegedly did or did not do while at work?

Generally, yes. The NC Defense of State Employees Act (N.C.G.S. §143-300.3 et seq.) provides for the defense, representation and indemnification of state employees who are acting within the course and scope of their assigned duties and are sued in their official or individual capacities, whether criminally or civilly. The Attorney General has the sole discretion in deciding whether to represent and defend a State employee. Grounds for refusing a defense include the existence of fraud, corruption, actual malice; or the person was acting outside the course or scope of employment (e.g. sexual harassment); or if the Attorney General determines that it would not be in the best interests of the State. 

Does the university have liability insurance?

As a constituent institution of the University of North Carolina and a state agency, NC State is a self-insured entity as required by and set forth in state law (N.C.G.S. §143-291, et seq.). The university is not allowed to acquire additional or other insurance except by authorization of the State Department of Insurance.

Who does the university’s self-insurance cover?

Subject to and consistent with applicable statutes, coverage under the State’s self-insurance program applies to: a) all individuals currently employed by or working for the State and covered by the Defense of State Employees Act; b) authorized volunteers; c) agents of the State; d) individuals previously employed by the State and covered under the Defense of State Employees Act and the policy during their period of employment with the university; and e) individuals employed by NC State or the University system. Independent contractors are not employees of the State or the university.

I received a litigation hold notice, what does that mean?

When NC State receives knowledge of potential or actual litigation, the Office of General Counsel will send a Litigation Hold Notice  to all employees who may be in possession of potentially relevant information.  The Litigation Hold Notice informs employees of the nature of the threatened or actual lawsuit and instructs employees to preserve documents relating to the claim(s).  Data stewards and data custodians will be included on the Litigation Hold Notice and should preserve any potentially relevant information.  The Office of Information Technology (“OIT”) will also send employees who may be in possession of potentially relevant information an Electronic Records Questionnaire.  The form shall be completed and returned to the OIT within ten (10) business days of receipt.  Also review additional information about the university’s litigation hold terminology, and e-discovery processes.

Can I hire a private attorney to handle a university matter?

No. The university can only be represented by the attorneys in the Office of General Counsel or for litigation purposes those in the Attorney General’s Office, unless express permission has been granted by the UNC System Office. 

When does the university obtain outside counsel?

The Office of General Counsel (OGC) provides legal services and counseling to all University units and personnel for matters related to the operation of the University. In some instances, either special expertise is necessary or timing dictates that outside legal counsel be engaged. In those instances, all use of outside counsel must be approved by the UNC System Office, regardless of the source of funds.  The process of obtaining and working with outside counsel is managed by OGC.

What do I do if I receive a subpoena, court order or search warrant?

Notify the Office of General Counsel (OGC) immediately and provide them with a copy of the subpoena, court order or search warrant.  Do not attempt to respond to, contact or discuss the matter with the issuing/serving party without informing and seeking guidance from OGC.

Can OGC assist with subpoenas, court orders or search warrants unrelated to my work for NC State?

No. OGC can only advise individuals with subpoenas, court orders and search warrants received concerning matters within an individual’s scope of employment as an employee of NC State. For any subpoenas, court orders or search warrants seeking information outside the scope of employment, University employees should seek private legal counsel.

Can a subpoena be blocked or cancelled so that I need not respond? 

Sometimes.  Examples of this type of situation include when the requesting party asks for privileged or confidential information, or when the subpoena doesn’t allow enough time to respond.  Contact OGC to discuss these topics if you receive a subpoena.