Refusing Service of Process: Interesting Cases
While sometimes the hardest part of serving a defendant to a lawsuit is locating them, sometimes the person is found but outright refuses to accept service. Although not the most ideal way to serve a lawsuit, below are some examples of real-life cases in which the process server had to get creative in order to effectively serve the defendant.
Placing the papers near the defendant, by “drop service.” A process server tried six different times to personally serve the defendant at his residence in Stafford v. Mach (1st Dist. 1998). Although Mach answered the door, he did not identify himself. Instead, when the process server asked for him, Mach started asking questions, said he had never heard of the person being served, refused to provide identification, and threatened to call the police. The process server announced “drop service,” leaving the papers with Mach and noted serving a “John Doe” with a detailed description on the proof of service. The server also mailed the summons and complaint to Mach at the same home address. This method is called “drop service” because the server literally drops the papers in front of the defendant and their door, making service proper even if the defendant refuses to pick up the papers.The court found service to be valid.
Tossing papers on a nearby table in the presence of a staff person. In this case, Ludka v. Memory Magnetics Int’l (2nd Dist. 1972), the process server went to the defendant’s offices and asked to see the president but was told he was not there. Unable to speak with another officer of the defendant corporation, the server tossed the papers on a coffee table near a receptionist and announced service. The server also mailed the summons and complaint to the defendant corporation. The corporation’s president declared the receptionist was not employed by the corporation, nor was she an agent for the process of service because his office was on the other side of the building. The court held service was sufficiently valid.
Putting papers under a windshield wiper of a car. Service was found to be proper when the legal papers were placed under the windshield wiper after the defendant locked himself in the vehicle. In the case, Trujillo v. Trujillo (3rd Dist. 1945), the process server explained to the defendant what the documents were while the car window was open. The defendant, however, refused to accept them and rolled up the window. The defendant then tried to dislodge the papers by starting the windshield wiper, but they did not fall until after he started to drive away. The court found that service was proper.
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As can be seen, serving a lawsuit upon a defendant is not always easy. Ancillary Legal can help you with all of your process of service needs. You do not want your suit dismissed due to improper service. Contact us today.