Serving A Lawsuit When You Can’t Find The Party That Needs To Be Served
It is a fundamental doctrine of our constitution, that someone who is sued, gets notice of the lawsuit, so that he or she may have the opportunity to defend himself. Usually, this is done through a process server, who personally serves someone with the lawsuit.
But many times, the person that has to be served can’t be located. Other times, the person knows that he is trying to be served, and purposely evades the process server. The person may even lie about his whereabouts, or his identity.
Thankfully, Florida has a way that someone can be served with a lawsuit, even if the process server can’t personally deliver the lawsuit to that person.
Constructive serve allows someone to be served, simply by publishing notice of the lawsuit in a publication. This is only allowed with the permission of a judge and only after a showing that the party serving the papers, has undertaken a diligent attempt to personally serve the lawsuit.
The party trying to serve the papers must show the judge all the attempts that have been made to serve the other side. The statement given to the judge must swear that the person to be served is in another state and cannot be served, or else, that the person has been absent from the state for at least 60 days, or is otherwise hiding from service.
Constructive Serve on a Company
If the Defendant is a company, the party trying to serve the lawsuit can show that a diligent search has been made to find someone to serve, and that all the officers who could accept service, as are authorized under Florida’s service of process laws, are either absent from the state, can’t be found, or are otherwise hiding from service.
Note that constructive serve is for when nobody can be served, but Florida law actually allows for what is known as substitute service. This is when you serve the lawsuit on someone who is not the Defendant, but rather, someone who is, by law, authorized to accept service.
For example, you can serve the spouse of a Defendant, so long as the spouse is also a party to the lawsuit, if the spouse requests or allows such service, and so long as the husband and wife both live together.
Service on a company can get complex, but the law provides a lot of options. One of the easiest ways is to serve the registered agent of the company, which will be listed in Florida’s Department of Corporations. If there is no registered agent, any employee of the company can be served.
If you don’t want to serve the registered agent, you can serve almost any officer, agent, or director of a company.
Need help with your business law case? Call the West Palm Beach business litigation attorneys at Pike & Lustig today.