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Friday, February 26, 2010

Single attempt at notice did not satisfy the Maryland Rules of Civil Procedure.

Case: Rafael Flanagan v. Department of Human Resources, CA No. 64, Sept. Term 2009. Reported. Opinion by Harrell, J. Filed. Feb. 9, 2010.

Issue: Did leaving a show-cause order under the door of defendant’s last known address provide sufficient notice of his court date?

What The Court Held: Maryland’s highest court ruled that the Maryland Department of Human Resources made a mistake when it had a process server slide under the door of the defendants “last known address” an order that he appear in a Baltimore court to explain why he was in arrears in his child support. That single effort to contact the defendant in 1995 was insufficient to notify him of his court date, thus nullifying his admission that he owed back child support.

The opinion means that notice delivered to the defendants last known address happened in this case is sufficient only with a judge’s permission and only after good-faith efforts to notify the defendant have been unsuccessful or if he or she is trying to evade service.