Lawsuits are often filed against the State of Hawaii and/or its employees for incidents and accidents. These may arise when claims are denied or to protect a claim from expiring due to the statute of limitations.

Lawsuits have a short time frame to respond. Small Claims Division of the applicable Court will have the date, time and location of the hearing date on the document. District Court and Circuit Court usually have 20 days from date of service to file an answer. Therefore, it is extremely important that the Risk Management Office (RMO) be advised immediately when a lawsuit, pertaining to a claim or accident, has been served upon a department or an employee.

Only the Department of the Attorney General can legally accept service of a lawsuit for a department. If the department accepts service, the individual accepting the lawsuit, must note when (date & time) of the service, where and their position title and work phone number. The lawsuit should be forwarded to the RMO. The RMO will forward the lawsuit to the Department of the Attorney General, along with a copy of the claim file.

However, an individual, such as a driver of a vehicle in an accident, may be personally served. In order for legal representation to be made by the Department of the Attorney General, the employee’s department head must formally request representation. This is done following the example provided.

Please refer to the Risk E-Notes January 2006 issue for more detailed information regarding lawsuits, written by Ms. Cindy Inouye, while the Supervising Deputy Attorney General for the Tort and Civil Rights Litigation Divisions.

NOTE: An employee will not receive legal representation from the Department of the Attorney General unless the formal request is received from the department. See the following: Request for Legal Representation