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Can a Township be reimbursed for the costs of producing documents in response to a subpoena?

November 2018

The answer depends on whether the township is involved in litigation that is the basis of the subpoena. If the township is a party to the litigation (i.e., a plaintiff or a defendant), the township must bear the costs in assembling the documents responsive to the subpoena and the requesting party will bear the copying costs, unless otherwise ordered by the court. MCR 2.310(C)(6). In reality, however, most townships do not even charge copying costs to the requesting party. The reason for this is that the township that is a party to litigation will also request documents from the opposing party and will not want to be charged for receipt of those documents. Thus, parties involved in litigation do not generally follow the strict language in the court rules and charge the other party for copying costs, or even more significantly, expert fees incurred during discovery. If  the  township is  not a  party  to  the  litigation,  the  court  may  order the  party  seeking  discovery  to  pay  reasonable expenses incurred in complying with the request. MCR 2.310(D)(5). This would require that a township make such a request to the court, however, because as a general rule the township will bear such costs. In certain circumstances involving a broad request or locating documents in an archive, it may be reasonable and prudent to ask that the costs to paid by the requesting party.

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