How much time and energy is your organization spending to comply with records requests pursuant to a subpoena duces tecum? For some organizations, complying with these requests drains a lot of resources which in many cases can be minimized.

A subpoena is used to obtain documents/information relevant to the issues presented in a particular case. “For discovery purposes, information is relevant if it ‘might reasonably assist a party in evaluating the case, preparing for trial, or facilitating settlement . . .” (Stewart v. Colonial Western Agency, Inc., (2001) 87 Cal. App. 4th 1006)

From a practical standpoint, attorneys hire an organization to act as their agent in obtaining the records pursuant to the subpoena. The scope of a request can be defined by the attorney or its agent. Consider an applicant with a torn meniscus along with the scope of this request:

“This demand to produce is not limited to the dates of injuries that are the subject of the case numbers listed on the attached Notice but includes all dates of occurrences and all periods of time for the specific documents demanded:

All documents…including but not limited to any and all employment files, personnel files, claim files, injury files, medical files, investigation files, disciplinary files and workers’ compensation files.”

In other words, why don’t you ask multiple personnel in your organization to identify and gather all records from all possible locations; i.e. GIVE ME EVERYTHING.

This request is unacceptable and it can create a huge burden on your organization. Full compliance is not always necessary and you should speak with your attorney before expending the time and resources necessary to comply with such a request.

There are mechanisms used by attorneys to limit the scope of a request including a Motion to Quash or modification of the subpoena. However, before the judicial process can be used, attorneys are required to “meet and confer” and make a good faith effort to resolve the dispute. A meet and confer is often all it takes to narrow the scope of the request and save your organization’s personnel and financial resources.