HOW SERVICE OF PROCESS ENSURES A SOLID FOUNDATION

This article will provide guidance on How Service of Process Ensures A Solid Foundation.  Each party to a matter is given due notice and a chance to present their side. Unfortunately, delays, financial damages, countersuits, and even loss of case may result from inadequate or incorrect service of process.  When a party is ‘served,’ they have been given formal written notice of the commencement of legal proceedings. Each party in a case in the United States is entitled to receive notice of any proceedings conducted against them, as required by law. It also determines which court has authority to hear the case. Click Here for information on What Do Process Servers in New York Do!

Legal documents (such as a complaint, response, or motions) must be legally served on the opposing party or parties and the court. Civil actions cannot begin until the process has been served, which is a crucial stage in the legal process. The whole suit may stop if it is not handled appropriately.  Process service is one of the most important first steps in a lawsuit, and we at Undisputed Legal take it very seriously. Our clients’ trust in us is sacrosanct, and we ensure that service is done fully and accurately. If you found this article helpful, kindly consider leaving us a review. Click the link to share your feedback, and we would greatly appreciate a five-star review.

Why do we need service of process?

A civil case cannot begin without proper service of process. A case cannot go forward either if the serving of process is not carried out correctly.  An incorrect service of process can often mean a default judgment, ending the case altogether. The court hearing the case must have jurisdiction over the defendant before service of process may be considered complete. Service of process is also significant because it alerts the defendant that the plaintiff is bringing a lawsuit against the defendant. A court has jurisdiction because these parties have some connection to the court. The significance of serving of process in a legal proceeding cannot be overstated. It is often advised to involve a private process service agency like Undisputed Legal to adhere to process service requirements. We have served legal papers both within and outside the United States for years and understand the stakes at hand for adequate service of process.

A court must have jurisdiction over the case and the parties’ interests in order to enforce due process. The procedure by which a lawsuit’s papers are sent to the opposing parties and the court is called ‘service of process.’ It is the first step in any litigation when the plaintiff hands the defendant a copy of the complaint and a summons. For businesses, service of process is imperative. 

The processes and requirements for obtaining and accomplishing effective service of process are addressed in the Federal Rules. Several subsections of Rule 4 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure address specific questions that may arise during the serving of process. Specifically, the legal process in the United States must be served by an adult who is not a party to the litigation and is at least eighteen years old. The plaintiff may also ask that someone from the United States Marshals Service serve the defendant. A process server well-versed in Rule 4 and related local regulations like those at Undisputed Legal will typically affect service. Click here for information on How Rush Process Service Can Expedite Your Case.

How is service of process done?

A person may be notified of pending legal proceedings by being served with a summons, complaint, subpoena, or other legal instrument. In most cases, face-to-face interaction is required. Historically, this role was filled by officers from the local sheriff’s office. This is still the case in many areas, although more often, professionals known as ‘process servers’ are employed to ensure that legal documents are delivered on time. Private process servers can often be more reliable and accountable to you about service.

When personal service cannot be performed, ‘substituted service’ may be used. The individual’s home is visited here, and an adult resident is left with the legal paperwork. If service is done for a company, the paperwork might be left with a manager. Posting the papers in a conspicuous location and sending a copy by certified mail is a valid option in certain jurisdictions. State by state, there are different regulations for serving legal documents. Legal process may be delivered via sheriffs and their deputies, lawyers, the legal representatives of the plaintiff, or even just any adult not directly interested in the case. 

Mailing papers to effectuate service can be appropriate in certain scenarios. This is the standard procedure when a ‘reasonable and good faith attempt’ at serving of process has failed. Registered or certified mail, return receipt desired, may be used to effect service. Registered or certified mail and normal mail may be used to resend papers if the recipient does not acknowledge receipt of the first mailing. Effective service is assumed if the receipt is not returned.  This implies that the recipient of a subpoena or summons may take precautions to evade service but may ultimately be legally bound to comply.

There are different rules for dealing with people who are minors or mentally incapable of accepting service. Civil proceedings involving a minor or someone deemed legally incompetent are treated differently under the law. Minors are defined as any child under the age of eighteen. People in a coma or with serious mental illness are two examples of conditions that render an individual unfit to make choices on their behalf. If these people are mentioned in a case, the court will often appoint a legal guardian to act on their behalf. This is an indication of the importance of service of process. A private process service agency like Undisputed Legal is trained to ensure service is done according to the client or the individual receiving the service. Without tailoring service to the recipient, the delivery of papers cannot be considered complete. Click here for information on how to serve legal papers on hard to find individuals.

Effects of bad service of process

Bad or incorrect delivery of process sometimes causes court procedures to be postponed. If the defendant is not properly served with the lawsuit, they may not even know that a case has been filed against them and, consequently, may not reply to the complaint in a timely way. Because of this, the legal procedure may be slowed down significantly, which is irritating and costly for everyone concerned.

The plaintiff may suffer monetary damages if the serving of process was botched or otherwise failed to occur. For instance, the defendant may not respond to the lawsuit if appropriate service cannot be made and the plaintiff cannot notify the defendant about the complaint. If the defendant has not been served, the court may enter a default judgment in favor of the plaintiff, which may be difficult or impossible to collect.  At Undisputed Legal, we ensure that your papers are complete and accurate to prevent the possibility of a default judgment. 

The defendant may bring a counterclaim against the plaintiff for improper serving of process if he or she is not served with the lawsuit in a timely manner. This may be costly in terms of both time and money, and it might even cause the plaintiff to lose their case.  The defendant cannot defend themselves if they are unaware that a case has been brought against them because improper service of process prevents them from receiving notice of the action. As a consequence, the plaintiff may not be able to establish their case and may lose the litigation.  Some instances have extra consequences beyond dismissal or lack of jurisdiction because of faulty or inadequate delivery of the process. For example, the court can throw out the plaintiff’s lawsuit if the defendant was not properly served with a copy of the complaint and summons. In the case, the plaintiff re-submitted the original lawsuit, but this time the defendant filed a counterclaim for abuse of process, arguing that the first complaint was filed in bad faith. The lawsuit was eventually dropped with prejudicial effect.  If the plaintiff’s suit is found to be without merit, the defendant can countersue for malicious prosecution. 

These instances indicate that a failure to properly complete service of process may not only result in the dismissal of the action or lack of jurisdiction but can also lead to counterclaims, increased legal bills, and other negative repercussions for the plaintiff. Service must conform to all applicable laws and regulations to prevent invalidating the case. 

One must ensure proper service of process if you want your legal action to go anywhere. Incorrect service of process may cause a lawsuit to be delayed, cost money, lead to countersuits, or even be unsuccessful. Working with a reliable and competent service of process agency like Undisputed Legal will set the tone for the rest of your case. Through our extensive network of expert process servers, we can make sure that everyone who needs to be informed of court proceedings is indeed informed. 

Legal Requirements for Good Service of Process 

A strict time limit exists for having a summons or other legal document served on the opposite party after it has been issued. If the document is not served by the deadline, the plaintiff will have to restart the procedure, slowing down the case.

Different jurisdictions have different rules on how service of process must be handled. In certain cases, human interaction is essential. Service of process by mail is an option in certain jurisdictions. Some countries need process servers to be licensed, whereas others do not. Valid service of process requires familiarity with the applicable regulations of the jurisdiction in which the papers are being served.

There are situations when a litigant’s knowledge about a witness or defendant is inaccurate. Some defendants and witnesses even actively try to avoid being located and served. It requires talent and specialized, sophisticated databases and investigative tools to hunt down individuals to have them served. A private process service agency like Undisputed Legal is handy here. For example, a court will not recognize service unless an Affidavit of Service has been submitted. This Affidavit must be submitted within a particular length of time after service has been performed; thus, it must be drawn out per local requirements. A pending lawsuit may be delayed if this paperwork is not submitted or filed incorrectly. Undisputed Legal ensures that the affidavit of service is done completely, accurately, and without any flaw. 

Specifics for Governments

There are unique processes for serving foreign governments, as well as foreign persons and businesses. These parties may be interested in having their laws apply rather than the laws of the United States. Therefore, under federal regulations, the laws must account for both the laws of the parties’ home countries and any international agreements (or lack thereof) between the United States and the foreign country, creating a mechanism for serving process on these parties. In matters involving foreign countries or persons located abroad, it is crucial to investigate the laws of the relevant foreign jurisdiction in detail. A private process service agency like Undisputed Legal, which works internationally, is often the best choice to ensure your documents are safe even across borders.  

Litigating against the federal government, federal agencies, or agents requires following certain processes outlined in the federal regulations. Plaintiffs suing the federal government must serve the U.S. attorney for the district where their case was filed with a copy of the summons and complaint. If an assistant U.S. attorney or clerical worker has been assigned to accept service, the plaintiff may also mail a copy of the summons and complaint to that person. A copy of the summons and complaint must also be delivered to the United States Attorney General in Washington, DC, and if the suit is being brought in response to a decision made by a federal officer or agency that is not a party to the suit, a copy must also be delivered to that officer or agency.

Undisputed Legal ensures that the rules should be followed while serving a federal agency or organization, or any of its officials, in their official roles. The plaintiff may also serve the officer or agency with a copy of the summons and complaint by sending it to them by registered or certified mail.  An injured party may file a lawsuit against a government employee or official in their official or private position, depending on the circumstances. If an official is being sued in their capacity, it is because the official’s acts have harmed the plaintiff in the same way that any other private citizen’s conduct would have. The federal regulations establish unique procedures for serving the process on federal officials being sued in their capacity for occurrences that occurred while they were functioning in official roles. Service upon the federal government follows the same procedures if the defendant is a public servant. 

What Happens if Service of Process is Not Proper?

The plaintiff can ‘cure’ a flaw in serving of process if it was improperly executed against the federal government or one of its agencies or personnel. In certain cases, the plaintiff is given ‘reasonable time’ to complete the necessary service. Since the word ‘reasonable time’ lacks a precise definition, it is up to the discretion of the court to decide whether or not the mistake was corrected in a timely manner. It is preferable not to rely on ‘fixing’ service: involving a private process service agency like Undisputed Legal typically ensures that there is no flaw in the first place. 

Waiver of service is another potential problem that might develop during the service of process. The plaintiff may seek a waiver for service of process from the defendant under subsection (d) of FRCP Rule 4. When a defendant waives service, they agree to forego the legal requirements of being served. The plaintiff must deliver two copies of the summons and complaint together with a request to waive service of the summons and complaint in order to secure a waiver. A defendant who agrees to waive service must return the waiver agreement to the plaintiff. If the defendant does not waive service or refuses to waive service without good cause, the defendant must pay the full cost of service, including the cost of the process server and the reasonable cost of the plaintiff’s attorneys. 

Service of process of the complaint and summons must be made by the plaintiff within the period permitted. The plaintiff has a hundred and twenty days from when the complaint is filed in court to serve the defendant. Each named defendant in a lawsuit must be served with the proper number of copies of the complaint and summons. The defendant has the right to request (make a motion) that the complaint be dismissed for improper service if the plaintiff fails to serve within the allotted a hundred and twenty days. The court might potentially decide to throw out the lawsuit on its own. Consequently, process service has to be done considering all outcomes of the service. A private process service agency like Undisputed Legal understands the potential routes the process may take. Each client’s case is unique, and we accommodate the same. If service of process splinters at one stage, we are undaunted and ensure that service is done accurately subsequently. 

Legal documents need to be served the right way for a number of reasons. Service of process establishes that the court hearing the action has authority over the disputed matters and the parties. It is meant to let people know when a lawsuit has been filed against them. The statute of limitations is ‘tolled’ or put on hold, making it even more crucial. Tolling the statute of limitations avoids the chance that time might run out while the plaintiff pursues the claim. The statute of limitations is not suspended if service is improperly executed. As a result, the clock would keep ticking and eventually run out on the statute of limitations. The plaintiff is barred from filing an action if the applicable statute of limitations expires before service is made. Consequently, it is preferable to involve the services of a private process service agency like Undisputed Legal to prevent any issues in the delivery of your legal documents. 

OUR PROCESS

Documents can be faxed at (800) 296-0115, emailed to ps@undisputedlegal.com, or uploaded to our website. We do require prepayment and accept all major credit and debit cards. Once payment is processed, your sales receipt is immediately emailed for your records. Click here to watch our introduction video.

Drop-offs must call and make an appointment first to be added to building security to permit access to our office. Documents for service must be in a sealed envelope with payment in the form of a money order or attorney check (WE DO NOT ACCEPT CASH) payable to UNDISPUTED LEGAL INC.; Our receptionist will receive all documents.  Click Here for Frequently Asked Questions About Process Servers!

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OFFICE LOCATIONS

New York: (212) 203-8001 – 590 Madison Avenue, 21st Floor, New York, New York 10022
Brooklyn: (347) 983-5436 – 300 Cadman Plaza West, 12th Floor, Brooklyn, New York 11201
Queens: (646) 357-3005 – 118-35 Queens Blvd, Suite 400, Forest Hills, New York 11375
Long Island: (516) 208-4577 – 626 RXR Plaza, 6th Floor, Uniondale, New York 11556
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Connecticut: (203) 489-2940 – 500 West Putnam Avenue, Suite 400, Greenwich, Connecticut 06830
New Jersey: (201) 630-0114 – 101 Hudson Street, 21 Floor, Jersey City, New Jersey 07302
Washington DC: (202) 655-4450 – 1101 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W. Suite 300, Washington DC 20004

FOR ASSISTANCE SERVING LEGAL PAPERS

Pick up the phone and call Toll Free (800) 774-6922, or click the service you want to purchase. Our dedicated team of professionals is ready to assist you. We can handle all your process service needs; no job is too small or too large!

Contact us for more information about our process-serving agency. We are ready to provide New York City service of process to all our clients globally from our offices in New York, Brooklyn, Queens, Long Island, Westchester, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Washington, D.C.

“Quality is never an accident; it is always the result of high intention, sincere effort, intelligent direction, and skillful execution; it represents the wise choice of many alternatives”– Foster, William A

Sources

1. Combs v. Nick Garin Trucking, 825 F.2d 437, 443 (D.C. Cir. 1987)

2. Cherry v. Byram Hills Central School District, No. 7:2011cv03872 – Document 31 (S.D.N.Y. 2013)

3. Cornish v. Blackwell (2011)

4. Coulter v. Bank of America, 28 Cal.App.4th 923, (Cal. Ct. App. 1994)

The court threw out the plaintiff’s lawsuit because the defendant was not properly served with a copy of the complaint and summons. The plaintiff subsequently filed a second lawsuit, but the defendant alleged that the plaintiff was seeking to dodge the statute of limitations by submitting a fresh case. The plaintiff was ordered to pay the defendant’s legal expenses, and the case was dismissed with prejudice. 

5. Bradley v. U.S. 866 F.2d 120, 127 (5th Cir. 1989),

6. Ferrera-Goitia v. Farm Credit Bank of Baltimore, 316 F.3d 62, 68 (1st Cir. 2003).

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