Can I be sued personally for my acts as a volunteer?

As a volunteer, you might worry about being sued if you do something wrong or fail to do something while volunteering. The federal Volunteer Protection Act (VPA) and the Maryland Volunteer Service Act (MVSA) provide some protections. As a Maryland volunteer, this means you are covered under both the VPA and the MVSA, where it provides additional protection.

Protection from Lawsuits for Volunteers and Charitable Organizations

What should I do if a sheriff or process server arrives at my office and asks me to accept legal papers (such as a summons or subpoena) on behalf of the University or someone with whom I work?

You should refuse to accept the papers. Direct the official to OGC and call OGC at 5-2870 to alert us.

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Who may accept service of process for the University?

An attorney at OGC may, at their sole discretion, accept service, properly made, on behalf of the University. Employees of the University who are sued in their individual capacities typically must be personally served.  OGC attorneys ordinarily do not accept service on behalf of individuals in that context.

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What should I do if an FBI agent arrives at my office and requests information (other than health information) as part of the background check of a prospective government employee?

You should:

  • Politely ask to examine the agent’s credentials. Satisfy yourself that they are genuine. (You may wish to have the assistance of a co-worker.) Write down the agent’s name and phone number, or copy his or her badge or card.
  • Examine and copy the forms the agent should present. The form should indicate that the person about whom the background check is being conducted consents to UMBC’s production of documents to the agent, or to an interview. Make sure the consent form clearly identifies the individual, has been recently signed, and otherwise appears to be genuine.
  • If all seems to be in order, you may answer the agent’s questions and provide the agent copies of the requested documents (usually a transcript, work history, etc.). Make a note of the documents that you have provided the agent. If the agent does not have a signed consent form, has requested health information, or is seeking information for any purpose other than a background check, please direct the agent to OGC and call OGC at 5-2870 to alert us.

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What should I do if I receive correspondence from a lawyer asserting a claim against me (in my work capacity), my department, or the University?

If you receive a letter from a lawyer asserting a claim or threatening suit with respect to you in your work capacity, your Department or unit, or the University, please forward it immediately by fax (410-455-1713) or emailed pdf to OGC, with your name and contact information, and call OGC at 5-2870 to provide background information.

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Whom at the OGC should I contact if I need legal help?

UMBC faculty and staff should feel free to contact any attorney in OGC for help with a question. That attorney will then direct the caller to the OGC attorney knowledgeable about the appropriate area of the law. The OGC Executive Administrative Assistant, Janet Maddox, can be reached at our main number (410-455-2870 or -1904), will also assist any caller in finding the right attorney. The caller may also review the OGC Contact listings and call or email one of the attorneys in the appropriate practice area.

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My department wants to enter into a contractual arrangement, what do we do?

As a general matter, there are five ways for contracts to be processed in the University. An initial determination of the kind of contract involved will determine how you proceed.

  1. PROCUREMENT: University Procurement will process procurement requests including orders for goods and services, hotel special event agreements, blanket purchase orders, procurement of office supplies, furniture and fixtures, office and operating equipment, computer hardware, software and computer supplies, and equipment maintenance contracts. Departments may work directly with Procurement on these arrangements. To the extent legal or risk management review is required, this will be coordinated by the office of the General Counsel and Senior Associate Vice President for Administrative Services.
  2. SPONSORED RESEARCH: Where a sponsored project is involved, the Office of Sponsored Programs should be contacted (5-3140). Sponsored projects include research projects funded by governmental units, research funded by third parties, agreements for community services programs, or classroom instruction for government entities where non-standard rates are charged.
  3. ACADEMIC MEMORANDA OF UNDERSTANDING: The Provost or Vice Provost for Academic Affairs may sign Memoranda of Understanding for cooperative academic arrangements, such as exchange programs and internship placements.
  4. OTHER CONTRACTS AND AGREEMENTS: All other contracts and agreements will typically need legal review to ensure they do what they are intended to without creating unnecessary burdens on the University. This agreements must have a budgetary review to make sure their obligations are planned for financially; they need to be vetted for conflicts of interest; and they should be reviewed for programmatic conflicts with other units within the University.
  5. GIFTS: Gifts to the University must be processed and approved by the Office of Institutional Advancement, in consultation with the OGC.

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