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General Litigation Division - Mission

Our Mission

The General Litigation Division ("GLD") provides services to U. S. Department of Commerce ("DOC") client agencies (except the Patent & Trademark Office) in the following areas:

Tort Claims, Litigation and Liability Issues
Handle all DOC tort issues, including performing all programmatic as well as legal functions. This encompasses processing all administrative tort claims, providing counsel regarding tort liability issues, and preparing documents for and representing DOC respecting tort matters.

Service of Process and Requests and/or Subpoenas for Employee Testimony and Documents
Counsel client agencies and make determinations regarding DOC's Touhy Regulations [15 C.F.R. Part 15, exclusive of Subpart C at §§ 15.21-15.25] pertaining to: 1) service of process, including summonses and complaints involving the DOC or DOC officials or other employees for official acts (Subpart A); 2) requests and/or subpoenas for testimony by employees and the production of documents in legal proceedings; and 3) requests for legal representation of DOC employees sued in their individual capacity for official acts, and indemnification of DOC employees for verdicts, judgments or settlements involving the employee personally for official acts (Subpart D).

Counsel, prepare documents for and represent clients in bankruptcy cases. This includes legal services ranging from filing proofs of claim to advocating DOC's interests in disputes, including any disputes that may arise with other federal agencies and the states. Although client agencies often remain the primary points of contact for notices, GLD works with and through the U.S. Department of Justice (including the U.S. Attorneys) ("DOJ") to prosecute the claims and defend the interests of such agencies.

Commercial Matters
Counsel, prepare documents for and represent client agencies regarding the administration and collection of loan-related indebtedness under a variety of programs. This includes the appropriateness and form of repayment assistance; bankruptcy and non-bankruptcy loan work-outs and bond restructuring; the liquidation or other disposition of collateral, including the requisite transactional work; and general support on programmatic needs where commercial law considerations play a significant role. In addition, GLD provides legal representation for agencies on matters related to enforcement of loan agreements, bond resolutions, guarantees, and an assortment of collateral and security interests.

Debt Collection
Provide guidance to and oversight of DOC agencies respecting the collection of indebtedness arising under myriad programs. In addition, GLD reviews all requests by client agencies to the Assistant General Counsel for Finance and Litigation to terminate the collection of such indebtedness.

Employee Personal Property Claims
Counsel client agency claims officers and attorneys who process personal property claims, review claims in excess of $5000, and provide an appellate review function regarding disputed claims. Provide information for potential claimants about filing a personal property claim, which can be accessed at

False Claims
Counsel, prepare documents for and represent DOC respecting whether the Government should seek relief in Qui Tam actions and under the Program Fraud Civil Remedies Act ("PFCRA"). This includes providing DOC's recommendations respecting seeking such relief and, if DOJ decides the Government should proceed, providing legal support to DOJ in Qui Tam matters and prosecuting PFCRA cases.

Environmental Matters
Provide defensive environmental support and representation for most of DOC, including on issues or in litigation arising under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, & Liability Act (Superfund), the National Environmental Policy Act, the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, the Toxic Substances Control Act, and a number of other environmental statutes. GLD staff have been involved in several of the first "Brownfields" transfers of federal property under Section 120(h) of Superfund.

Litigation Support
If cases in any of the foregoing areas involve litigation, provide legal support to DOJ, including by: 1) gathering documents for production and preparing witnesses for depositions during discovery; 2) researching facts and assisting with memoranda of law for motion practice; and 3) assisting with trial preparations and with appellate briefs for trials and appeals. In addition, when designated, act as Special Trial Attorneys and Special Assistant United States Attorneys.

General Matters
Coordinate and cooperate with other offices within the Office of the General Counsel in all areas of law as appropriate. Perform special projects as may be directed by the Assistant General Counsel for Finance and Litigation.