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Friday, March 20, 2015

Michigan Landlords May Soon Serve Eviction Notices via Email

A Bill in the Michigan Legislature introduced earlier this year, if passed would allow landlords to give notice of an eviction via email if authorized by a written agreement.  

House Bill 4038 amends 1961 PA 236, entitled "Revised judicature act of 1961," by amending section 5718 (MCL 600.5718).  Specifically by adding section D that would provide email as a manner of notice to the other manners of notice already available. 

If you are a Process Server in Michigan that serves these types of notices this is a development that should catch your attention.  One has to wonder if  this possible development represents the new normal for the service of process business.

It would appear this Bill would get support from the landlord community... If this Bill represents what the landlords want and what the tenants want, what argument can the Process Serving industry make that would be effective in stopping or amending this Bill?

Those that follow this blog now that this is not the first time commented service of an eviction notice via email.  See this blog post from 2010 that explored this issue in a little more detail. 

by Jeff Karotkin

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Is Service of Process in Texas a Shrinking Business?

Texas Process Servers - Mostly Bad News



If you are a process server in Texas that relies on new civil and family law cases to be filed so you can serve them, this report confirms what you probably already know.  The number of civil Debt and Motor Vehicle cases  filed statewide are now below 1985 levels. Most other case types including new Family Law cases have declined as well.  If you are serving Child Support cases, great news... those are up sharply.  



http://www.txcourts.gov/media/883372/Annual-Statistical-Report-FY-2014.pdf

Monday, January 26, 2015

Dude Where Did My Service of Process Business Go?


For those following this blog for the last 5+ years know that I have focused it on how the Process Serving and Litigation Support industry has been or may be impacted by the digital revolution underway. 

This short post is no different.  It focuses on a troubling trend, the manner in which civil Subpoena's can be served (actually delivered) upon some of the largest companies in the world. 

After doing a little research for I found the 2015 Subpoena Guide produced by the Associate'sMind Blog to be a very informative and useful resource.  It provides links to detailed information about the polices and procedures of some of these entities in order to properly serve a Subpoena. 


After digging into the policies and procedures of these companies I found that many of them including Twitter, Facebook, Amazon, LinkedIn,  Snapchat, Pinterest and Craigslist all prefer Service of Process be delivered by other that traditional means.  Amazon's information goes into great detail about how to issue a subpoena with a court local to them as well as providing directions that suggests the only way to serve them is via Certified Mail.

As a matter of fact based upon the information they make available the preferred/requested methods of delivery for a Subpoena for civil records are Email, Fax and Certified Mail. I guess this is not at all surprising to many of my readers I have been documenting instances of electronic service and communication for some time now.  

So if you are wondering where your Subpoena business went this may have something to do with it. 

Below is a screenshot of a web-page that AT&T makes available that directs you how to provide them with the information about your Subpoena and what number to fax it to...

 

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Electronic document delivery drags Ontario lawyers kicking and screaming into the 21st Century

As of Jan. 1, Ontario’s Canada's Rules of Civil Procedure permit the use of “electronic document exchange” or EDX services. The idea is quite simple. Law firms join a cloud-based service that acts as a conduit. A lawyer uploads a document to the service and directs it to the intended recipient. The document is then electronically served with the click of a mouse.

http://business.financialpost.com/2015/01/21/arrival-of-electronic-document-delivery-drags-ontario-lawyers-kicking-and-screaming-into-the-21st-century/


Wednesday, January 21, 2015

New York Announces Sweeping New Regulation of the Debt Collection Industry

Did Electronic Service of Process in NY just get one step closer to becoming a reality?

One of the changes that are being imposed in the state of New York has to do with how creditors and debtors communicate.  The new regulation allows for communication via Email and it is apparently meant to reduce harassing phone calls.

As I think about what else it could mean or lead to I can't help but wonder if it could bring electronic service of process one step closer to becoming a reality for these types of cases.  What is to stop a creditor from sending demand letters and even the lawsuit via Email? 

Think about  it for a minute… If a creditor knows your email address is valid and the email address follows you regardless of where you work or reside, it just got a whole lot easier to provide actual notice.  Certainly that is better than posting a lawsuit on the door of the last known address.  Why couldn’t a creditor say to the debtor; you don't really want us to send a Process Server or Sheriff to your home or place of work do you? You don't want the cost of the service of process to be added to the debt do you?  Just waive the service requirements and you can avoid the unnecessary cost and embarrassment associated with the service of process... 

Just Sayin... Is this far-fetched?

http://www.troutmansanders.com/new-york-announces-sweeping-new-regulation-of-the-debt-collection-industry-12-05-2015/

by Jeff Karotkin

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Service of Process via Facebook…The New Paradigm?


Service of Process via Facebook…The New Paradigm?

by Mark Schwartz, One Legal LLC

Lately there’s been some chatter about service of process via social media, specifically Facebook.   In case you haven’t seen it, on September 18th, nypost.com published an article entitled “Judge Oks serving legal papers via Facebook.”   The article speaks to a “groundbreaking court ruling” in which Staten Island Support Magistrate Gregory Gliedman ordered a party to serve his ex-wife via Facebook.  The order, according to the judge, was the “first of its kind in New York, and also the first in the United States that didn’t involve an attempt to serve someone overseas.”
In 2011, Jeffrey N. Rosenthal, of The Legal Intelligencer, wrote an article entitled “You’ve Been Served – On Facebook?”  His article speaks to a Minnesota case, In re the Marriage of Jessica Mpafe v. Clarence Ndjounwou Mpafe (Hennepin County, MN No. 27-FA-11-3453), in which the court told the plaintiff not to waste her time with service via publication and instead “held that ‘publication on the internet’ was acceptable so long as it followed the same ‘information and timing’ requirements that would go into a newspaper.”  “Soon may come a time,” Rosenthal writes, “when service via Facebook isn’t the exception – it’s the rule.”  Okay, so we’re not there yet but perhaps it depends on your definition of “soon.”  Sorry, I couldn’t resist.  On a less flippant note I should point out that Mr. Rosenthal’s article also provides a concise analysis of what he calls “the origin of American service law:  the U.S. Constitution.”



In November of 2011, Lisa McManus, of LexisNexis Legal Newsroom, published a post about the same case.  She voices a valid concern as well:  how does one know that the person who holds the account is really the person he or she claims to be?  “On the other hand,” she writes, “neither notice by publication nor public posting provide actual notice to defendants.”  That’s a great point and the essence of the judges holding in Mpafe; service via the internet “provides a cheaper and hopefully more effective way of finding respondent.”   I always found it interesting that service via publication, which is authorized by statute here in CA (Code of Civil Procedure 415.50), culminates with publishing an image of the summons in a newspaper “that is most likely to give actual notice to the party to be served.”  Even if the defendant doesn’t see it, or answer, a judgment can still be entered.  So in reality it doesn’t matter if the defendant receives notice, does it?   By the way, Ms. McManus also provides some additional resources from Australia, Canada, New Zealand the U.K.  In those examples you’ll notice a theme:  that service via Facebook takes place via court order, either after traditional service has been attempted or because it could not be.  

In a 2013 Federal case, Federal Trade Commission v. PCCare247 INC., Dist. Court, SD New York 2013, the FTC asked the court “for leave to effect service of documents other than the Summons and Complaint by alternative means…of both email and Facebook.”  The court did decide that service via email did comport with due process but raised the point that if the plaintiffs would have asked the court to serve via Facebook only, then it wasn’t quite as clear as to whether due process was satisfied.  “To be sure, if the FTC were proposing to serve defendants only by means of Facebook, as opposed to using Facebook as a supplemental means of service, a substantial question would arise whether that service comports with due process. As one court in this district has observed, ‘anyone can make a Facebook profile using real, fake, or incomplete information, and thus, there is no way for the Court to confirm’ whether the Facebook page belongs to the defendant to be served.”  Ms. McManus would probably agree!  I’ll take it one step further and posit that service via email can be just as perilous.  To tweak the court’s language just a bit:  Anyone can set up an email account using real, fake or incomplete information, and thus, there is no way confirm it belongs to the party or that the party opened the email or viewed the document or documents.

I realize I’m taking some liberties.  The point I am trying to make, though, is that while technology may provide some options that did not exist just 10 years ago, that doesn’t mean it’s the best option for effecting service.  It’s also important to note that the services I discussed in this post were allowed by court order, not by statute.

I do expect that to change, and frankly I’m an advocate of such change, as long as the service is effected by a disinterested third party, e.g. a process server.  Technology is forcing many of us to adapt, and the legal field is certainly not immune.  As I’ve heard many times in my 35-plus years in the legal industry, judges want to hear the case on its merits.  They generally don’t like it when people evade service.  So, if a court can get the party under its jurisdiction in a more creative manner, it should.  Seems logical, doesn’t it?  Perhaps as a first step here in the Golden State, we tackle our antiquated service via publication statute and allow for publication via social media?  In any case, before we all start touting the benefits of service via social media I believe we need to better understand the pitfalls that lie therein and realize that service via Facebook is the exception, not the rule.

I’d love to know your thoughts.  Please email me or comment on this post.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Bill Pending in the Kansas Legislature that Related to Electronic Service Died


Kansas  House Bill 2116, introduced in 2013, died in committee on May 30, 2014.  The Bill mentioned in this blog post in February last year read in part:

     When a case is electronically filed and process is to be served
     under this subsection, the chief judge of each judicial district shall
     determine the procedure for service of process through an agreement with      a local enforcement agency.

Honestly I am not 100% sure what this section of the bill was meant to enable except that it appears that it would have given local law enforcement agencies the more authority to serve garnishments and levies by electronic means. 
 
It is worth noting that service by first class mail, facsimile and electronic mail of garnishments is already on the books in Kansas. 

Other service methods for garnishments.
In addition to other methods listed in this section, a person serving a garnishment process may serve the process by any of the following methods:
 
First-class mail.
Process may be sent to a person by first-class mail by placing a copy of the process and petition or other document to be served in an envelope addressed to the person to be served in accordance with K.S.A. 60-304, and amendments thereto, at the person's last known address. The envelope used for service must be addressed to the person in accordance with K.S.A. 60-304, and amendments thereto, and must contain adequate postage. The envelope must be sealed and placed in the United States mail. Service by first-class mail is complete when the
envelope is placed in the mail unless it is returned undelivered.
 
Telefacsimile communication.
Process may be sent to a garnishee by telefacsimile communication at a telefacsimile number designated by the garnishee. Service is complete upon receipt of a confirmation generated by the transmitting machine.
 
Internet electronic mail.
Process may be sent to a garnishee by internet electronic mail at an internet electronic mail address designated by the garnishee and as provided by supreme court rules. Service is complete upon receipt of an electronic confirmation of delivery

Perhaps a process server in Kansas that is familiar with the existing laws and statutes can shed some light on what the current practice is for this document type and exactly what this Bill would have done.
 
by jeff karotkin

Monday, May 12, 2014

Is it time to challenge yourself? I would argue it is past time!





Is the following true for you?  It is for me!

Process Serving is business.  Like all businesses we have to think outside the box if we are going to prosper let alone survive.

I am not saying process serving is not important, it is.  Call yourself a professional if you actually are, but what we do is a business at its essence. Process Servers must realize change =  opportunity and is not a threat. The profession could become even more profitable if advances in technology were incorporated into how we perform rather than ignored. Being profitable and remaining relevant are critical to our survival.

Far too many of us have been programed to believe how we perform the task of giving notice is sacred.... that changing how we perform the task of giving notice is not acceptable.   It is time, perhaps past time to reinvent our industry.

I would argue that whether we like it or not our clients/customers are demanding that we evolve.   And unless we do, we will be left behind on the trash heap that is those that refused to recognize the real opportunity is adding value even if it means we have to shift, evolve or change in order to remain relevant. 

What say you?

By Jeff Karotkin

Friday, April 18, 2014

Virginia Federal Court Allows Service Of Process By Facebook, LinkedIn & Email


Should the mere fact that a defendant is a "technology" company that embraces the latest technologies and conducts its primary business almost exclusively online subject that defendant to different service of process standards? 

Maybe so if that defendant has no known physical address where service of process can be reasonably served. 

It appears a Virgina Federal Court Judge agrees.  In the following case before the court the plaintiffs petitioned the court to allow service by alternative means pursuant to FRCP 4(f)(3)

WHOSHERE, INC., Plaintiff,
v.
GOKHAN ORUN d/b/a/ WhoNear; Who Near; whonear.me, Defendant.

Civil Action No. 1:13-cv-00526-AJT-TRJ.
United States District Court, E.D. Virginia, Alexandria Division.

The court analyzed the acceptability of plaintiffs’ methods and found that:
In applying Rule 4(f)(3), a court may tailor the method of service to the circumstances so long as that method 1) is not prohibited by international agreement and 2) comports with constitutional notions of due process.  Courts therefore have flexibly applied Rule 4(f)(3) to authorize service by differing modes of electronic and online communications including and social networking sites like Facebook.
- See more at: http://it-lex.org/virginia-court-allows-service-process-facebook-linkedin-e-mail/#sthash.oDfoR4pT.dpuf
In applying Rule 4(f)(3), a court may tailor the method of service to the circumstances so long as that method 1) is not prohibited by international agreement and 2) comports with constitutional notions of due process. Courts therefore have flexibly applied Rule 4(f)(3) to authorize service by differing modes of electronic and online communications including and social networking sites like Facebook.


The court analyzed the acceptability of plaintiffs’ methods and found that:
In applying Rule 4(f)(3), a court may tailor the method of service to the circumstances so long as that method 1) is not prohibited by international agreement and 2) comports with constitutional notions of due process.  Courts therefore have flexibly applied Rule 4(f)(3) to authorize service by differing modes of electronic and online communications including and social networking sites like Facebook.
- See more at: http://it-lex.org/virginia-court-allows-service-process-facebook-linkedin-e-mail/#sthash.oDfoR4pT.dpuf
The court analyzed the acceptability of plaintiffs’ methods and found that:
In applying Rule 4(f)(3), a court may tailor the method of service to the circumstances so long as that method 1) is not prohibited by international agreement and 2) comports with constitutional notions of due process.  Courts therefore have flexibly applied Rule 4(f)(3) to authorize service by differing modes of electronic and online communications including and social networking sites like Facebook.
- See more at: http://it-lex.org/virginia-court-allows-service-process-facebook-linkedin-e-mail/#sthash.oDfoR4pT.dpuf
Additionally, the court finds that service of process by email and social networking sites is particularly appropriate here considering that defendant is in the technology business and allegedly identifies himself as a "mobile technology enthusiast" on his LinkedIn page. See Philip Morris v. Veles Ltd., 2007 WL 725412 at *3 (S.D. NY Mar. 12, 2007) (authorizing service by email and fax where "defendants conduct business extensively through their Internet website and corresponds regularly with customers via email"); See LinkedIn, http://www.linkedin.com/in/gokhanorun (last visited February 11, 2014).
At what point will state courts adopt rules of court or civil procedure like FRCP 4(f)(3)?  When or if they do, who will be there to fight it for the private process serving industry?  And if this is what the courts,the judiciary and our customers want, might the industry be better served by finding a way to require that electronic service be only performed by a properly registered, bonded, licensed or otherwise lawful private process server?  What say you?

by Jeff H. Karotkin
In applying Rule 4(f)(3), a court may tailor the method of service to the circumstances so long as that method 1) is not prohibited by international agreement and 2) comports with constitutional notions of due process.  Courts therefore have flexibly applied Rule 4(f)(3) to authorize service by differing modes of electronic and online communications including and social networking sites like Facebook. - See more at: http://it-lex.org/virginia-court-allows-service-process-facebook-linkedin-e-mail/#sthash.1zsoky3p.dpuf

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Potential Pitfalls of Serving Documents Electronically - Service via DropBox Not Lawful

Australian Court Rules that Electronic Service of legal documents via the product "DropBox"  was NOT lawful. 

I believe that at a minimum Consent, Acknowledgment, and Proof of Receipt is a must if eService is agreed to by the parties.  A best practice ought to be that  disinterested Third-Party (process server) that can attest to the facts of the transaction whether physical or electronic is a necessary to ensure that all parties due process rights are protected.  

An excellent assessment by the law firm Hopgood & Ganim of this case can be found here:

If parties want to avoid arguments regarding service by electronic means (including use of facilities such as drop box), then specific provision should be made to this effect in the contract.
Is a dropbox an acceptable electronic communication?
The critical issue is whether, given the use of the drop box facility and the emails, Basetec had duly served the adjudication application.
The contract between the parties did not make provision for the service of documents, nor was there any suggestion that the parties had agreed that the adjudication application could be served as it was (notwithstanding that the parties had used drop box in earlier correspondence).
McMurdo J also held that he did not consider that section 39 of the Acts Interpretation Act allowed for service by email.
However, the Judge was content to allow that section 11 of the Electronic Transactions (Queensland) Act 2001 did allow for the adjudication application to be served by email.

Critically, he nevertheless held that in the circumstances, section 11 did not authorise the service of the adjudication application inclusive of the material within the drop box for two reasons:
  1. CGE had not agreed to be electronically served; and
  2. the material within the drop box was not part of an electronic communication as defined. None of the data, text or images within the documents in the drop box was itself electronically communicated, or in other words, communicated by “guided or unguided by electromagnetic energy”. The Judge found that there was an electronic communication of the means by which other information in electronic form could be found, read and downloaded at and from the drop box site. 
The key issue was that the Judge found that if the material had been attached to the email, rather than delivered by the use of drop box, it would have been an electronic communication and therefore service would have been successful. 

The Judge also held that the documents in the drop box file could not be said to have been left at or sent to CGE’s office (at least until CGE went to the drop box site and opened the file) and probably not until its contents had been downloaded to a computer at CGE’s relevant office.

#jeff karotkin