You’re Not in a Lawsuit: So Why Are You Being Asked for a Deposition?
If you are involved in a lawsuit as a party, you probably expect that you likely will be called to give testimony in a deposition. But what you don’t expect is the day that a process server shows up to your business with a subpoena for deposition, in a case that you seemingly have no interest in.
You aren’t the party suing or being sued. So what is this subpoena, and why do they want you to sit for deposition?
Third Parties Get Deposed Too
Often, people or businesses that aren’t parties to a lawsuit, have evidence, documents or information that are relevant to the issues in the lawsuit. Any number of your clients or customers could be involved in any kind of lawsuit, and their records with you could have some relevance in any of their cases.
What is Being Requested?
The first thing to establish is whether you actually have to physically come and sit for a deposition at all.
Many subpoenas are duces tecum, meaning that you have to provide the listed records or documents, but in some cases, so long as you provide the requested information and documents, you don’t actually have to sit for deposition and answer any questions.
Other times, you may have to do both (produce the requested documents and sit for deposition). The subpoena should say whether one or both are needed, but if not, you can contact the requesting attorney for clarification.
Objections and Protective Orders
Even if that’s the case, you may have an issue with the documents that are being requested. Often, the subpoena may request documents that you feel are confidential, private or privileged, or which may intrude on the privacy of your other clients or customers. The request may include documents that are privileged under work product doctrines, or other privileges.
In some cases, the records requested are voluminous, and there is a cost associated with copying them. You do have a right to reasonable compensation for copying costs.
If that’s the case, you will need to object, or else, have a business lawyer file a protective order for you in the court where the case is pending. The court may order you turn over some records, or all of them, with redactions made.
Time and Place
If your physical presence and actual testimony is required, you have a right to request that the deposition be coordinated with you. If the deposition time or date is not workable for you, you again can file a protective order—although usually with a phone call, most attorneys will reschedule the deposition to a time that is more convenient for you.
You cannot be compelled to physically attend a deposition that is outside of your home county, or within 100 miles of where you live (depending on whether the case is in state or federal court).
Again, if this is the case, the requesting attorney will likely just work with you to change the location, but if not, you may have to go to court for a protective order.
Served with a lawsuit or a subpoena? Call our West Palm Beach business litigation lawyers at Pike & Lustig today.