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0220.40 Lawsuits and Claims

Administrative Rules Adopted by Bureaus Pursuant to Rule Making Authority (ARB)
Policy number
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220.40, Lawsuits and Claims


  • ORS 30.265 Scope of Liability of Public Body, Officers, Employees and Agents
  • ORS 30.287 Counsel for public officer
  • Directive 0310.20 Discrimination, Harassment, and Retaliation Prohibited


  • Legal documents:  For purposes of this policy, legal documents refer to all documents notifying a member that the member, the Bureau, or the City are defendants or potential defendants in a civil lawsuit or tort claim.  Legal documents will not include subpoenas or public records requests, which are handled under a separate directive.


1.      This directive establishes the procedure for Bureau members who become involved in a lawsuit against the member where they were acting within the course of their employment or duties.

2.      Generally, a person may file a lawsuit against the City of Portland (“City”) and/or an individual member of the Bureau alleging claims related to actions a member took within the scope of a member’s employment or duties.  Legal documents related to lawsuits can be served by a hired process server, a member of a Sheriff’s Department, or any other competent adult aside from the person suing (Plaintiff).

3.      Rules for service of legal documents are different depending on the identity of the party being sued (Defendant).  This directive guides Bureau member interactions with a process server or other person attempting service and sets forth the responsibilities of those members who are named as Defendants or potential Defendants.

4.      For purposes of this policy and due to the fact that members do not have an “office” for purposes of office service, members must be personally served when they are individually named in litigation relating to actions within the scope of the members’ employment or duties.  The Court Coordinator is not authorized to accept personal service of lawsuits for individually named members.


1.      Lawsuits Against the City of Portland or the Bureau.

1.1.      Where the City is a named defendant but no individual member is named:

1.1.1.      If a process server or other person attempts to serve a member with any complaint, summons or any other legal documents where the City is the only listed defendant, the member shall not accept the service and shall refer the process server or other person to the City Attorney’s Office (CAO).  The member shall notify a supervisor regarding the attempted service as soon as practical, but no later than 24 hours after the attempted service.  The member may also notify the CAO of the attempted service.

1.2.   Where the Bureau is named as a defendant but no individual member is named:

1.2.1.    The following Bureau members are authorized to accept service when service is made on the Bureau as the named defendant:     Precinct front desk staff;     Central Precinct administrative support staff;     Professional Standards Division (PSD) Lieutenant; or     Administrative staff in the Chief’s office.

1.2.2.    The designated member shall accept service and immediately contact the CAO’s Office Paralegal Supervisor to notify them of the service and provide the following information:  date of service and method of service (personal service, mail, etc.).  The member served shall forward to the CAO any requested documents. 

2.      Lawsuits Against Individual Bureau Members.

2.1.      Responsibilities of members when they are an individually named defendant and are served with legal documents. 

2.1.1.      This directive pertains only to legal documents that relate to actions the member took during the scope of their employment or duties.  Any legal documents in any case unrelated to a member’s employment shall be handled at the discretion of the member.

2.1.2.      Members shall accept service of legal documents presented or delivered to them while on duty in cases where they are individually named as a defendant if it is related to actions the member took during the scope of their employment or duties.

2.1.3.      The member served with legal documents or upon whom service of process has been attempted shall contact the CAO Office Paralegal Supervisor within 24 hours of receipt of service or the attempted service with the following information:  name, Oregon Department of Public Safety Standards and Training (DPSST) identification number, date of service, and method of service (personal service, mail, etc.) or method of attempted service.     The member shall forward all of the original documents served upon them to the CAO Office Paralegal Supervisor within 96 hours of initial contact.  The member may retain a copy for their personal records.

2.1.4.      The member served with legal documents shall contact City Risk Management Division (CRMD) within 24 hours of receipt.     If requested, the member shall forward to CRMD copies of any legal documents they request.     The served member shall submit a written request (email is acceptable) to CRMD for defense and indemnification as soon as practicable, copying the PSD Claims Analyst.

3.      Supervisor Responsibilities.

3.1.      If a member is in the field when a process server seeks to serve the member, the supervisor shall call in that member out of the field to accept service, if call load and staffing allow.  If the member is unable to return to the Bureau facility at that time, the supervisor shall inform the server of the next date and time the member is expected to be at the facility. 

3.2.      No supervisor or any other PPB member can accept service on behalf of another individually named defendant-member.    

4.      Member Claims Against the City for Property Loss.

4.1.      Members filing claims against the City for any loss, damage, or destruction of personal property shall submit appropriate documentation to the CRMD.

5.      Members Who Receive Claims Against the City for Property Loss.

5.1.      Members who receive claims from individuals who are alleging a claim against the City for any loss, damage, or destruction of personal property or other claim shall immediately forward the documentation to the CRMD.

6.      Obligations Regarding Communications about Lawsuits and Claims.

6.1.      When discussing any complaint, claim, tort claims notice, summons, or any other legal document with any process server, complainant, plaintiff, or member of the public, members shall not:

6.1.1.      Inform a person that the City will award compensation for injury or loss.

6.1.2.      Discuss the facts of any case or state an opinion on potential liability.

6.2.      When police action results in damage to privately owned property, members shall write a police report and supervisors shall ensure the report goes CRMD.

6.3.      When a member becomes aware of any significant potential for a claim or lawsuit, and a police report would not otherwise be required, they shall write a report and include the known details of the incident, the names of all involved officers and other witnesses.  The member shall forward a copy of the report to the CRMD.

Effective:        8/4/2023

Next Review: 8/4/2024

Upcoming and Recent Changes

0220.40 Lawsuits and Claims

Effective Date

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