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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