Service of process is one of the most crucial parts of any lawsuit, and ensuring it is done properly is essential to your case going forward. However, if a process server is careless, there could be a problem with service that could delay your suit. In a worst case scenario, you could even miss a crucial deadline that permanently prevents you from going forward with your case. Here are five ways your service of process might be defective:
1. Wrong identifying information of parties
Most people would think that getting the correct identifying information for someone you want to sue would be one of the easiest parts of prosecuting a lawsuit. However, it is more common than many realize for publicly available records to be out of date, or for a simple typographical error to cause problems with service. It is also sometimes possible to put down the wrong information for someone, particularly if they have a common name. Ensuring this information is correct is essential for effective service of process, however.
2. Wrong venue or jurisdiction
Sometimes, it is not the information of the parties that is wrong, but instead information related to the court where the case is supposed to be prosecuted. After all, the point of service of process is to ensure a defendant is able to defend themselves against accusations of legal wrongdoing, so it is a problem if the summons indicates the wrong venue or jurisdiction for the case. This may particularly be an issue if you have attempted to locate a defendant in multiple jurisdictions, but they have proved evasive.
3. Missing summons
It is not enough for service of process to have the complaint against the defendant. It also must include the formal summons to the court where the case will be tried. Unfortunately, some people will, for one reason or another, try to serve a defendant without the summons. If both components are not present when a defendant is served, it is not considered effective service, and the whole thing needs to start over.
4. Served to the wrong person
It can sometimes be difficult to track down a defendant, especially if they have been evasive. This can be an issue because both the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and the New York Civil Practice Law require in-person service of process where possible. The difficulty in sometimes tracking down a defendant may lead some process servers to leave the summons and complaint with someone else at the same address who is not permitted to accept service on the defendant’s behalf. If service of process is not delivered to the right person, it will not count in the court’s eyes.
5. Substituted service too early
Substituted service, the act of delivering service of process to someone other than the named defendant or their designated agent, is accepted when the person themselves cannot be found. However, a server is only supposed to resort to substituted service when they have done their due diligence to try to deliver service in-person first. When a process server gives up too early and resorts to substituted service due to its convenience, they endanger the entire case. That is why you need to put your case in the hands of process servers who can be relied upon to do things the right way.
The process servers at Nicoletti & Harris have provided service of process and litigation support for our clients since 1986, giving us the experience to handle the demands of the modern legal environment. We provide service for all areas of law, assisting clients throughout New York, New Jersey, and Florida. If you require a process server or other forms of litigation support, contact our New York office at (212) 267-6448, or you can contact our New Jersey office at (732) 677-3903, or you can visit our contact page.