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Service of Process

“Service of process” is the legal term for providing a party with notice, either by mail or by hand-delivery, that legal documents have been filed with a Court that require action. From time to time, APSU employees, especially those in positions with direct contact with the public, may be approached by process servers, who will usually be Sheriff’s Department employees or paid process servers. Tennessee state law provides that process can be served by any person who is not a party to a lawsuit or other matter and is not less than 18 years of age.

The types of legal documents generally served are:
• Summons and Complaint initiating a lawsuit against an individual or the institution;
• Subpoenas for APSU records or for personal attendance of a witness at a trial or deposition;
• Garnishments, attachments, wage assignments requiring APSU to withhold employee wages to satisfy a debt or obligation.

The procedure for service of all three types of documents on the University or its employees differs depending upon the type of relief sought. Listed below is the procedure to be followed. As always, process servers and questions about service of process may be directed to the University Attorney.

Procedure for Service of Process

• Lawsuits against APSU - only the State Attorney General may accept service of process of summons and complaints for the state, state agencies, and state employees sued in their official capacity.

• Employees sued in their individual capacity (personally) for money damages must be personally served with process, even for acts or actions taken as employees of APSU. Individual capacity, generally, must be specifically designated in the body of the complaint. If in doubt, contact the University Attorney for assistance.

• University Records - subpoenas for APSU records should be served upon the custodian of the specific records or upon the Office of Legal Affairs.

• Subpoenas for appearance at trial or deposition – subpoenas for the appearance of witnesses should be served upon the person whose presence is requested.

• Garnishments - writs of garnishment and wage assignments may be served on the University by delivery to Human Resources.

If you are approached by a process server on campus:

1. Do not accept service of process of lawsuits against the University or employees sued in their official capacity. Direct process servers to the State Attorney General’s Office or the University Attorney.
2. When in doubt, contact the University Attorney at (931) 221-7584 for direction.