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Answers to questions from the webinar: Maximizing service of process 

Answers to some of your most pressing questions about service of process and effecting a serve every time.  

Thank you to all who joined our recent webinar on how to ensure successful service of process. Our featured guest, Kristian Pujol, has put together answers to some of your most pressing questions about service of process and effecting service every time.  

How easy is it to provide service on designated Agents for Service?  

Depends on the location. If we are serving an agent at their business, the Registered Process Server (RPS) can leave the documents with the person in charge if the agent is unavailable (this would be considered a substituted service, but no diligence is required). If the designated agent for service is being served at their residence, then they must be served personally. 

What is the best way to serve people in gated communities or buildings with front desk security?  

Registered Process Servers are allowed to enter gated communities and covered multifamily dwellings (apartments, condos, timeshares) through the application of 415.21 CCP Code. The code, which our state association has amended twice, stipulates that the server only has to identify himself (driver’s license and RPS registration) and thereby does not need to tell the guard whom they are there to serve. In the past, the guards would contact the homeowners and let them know, but with the amendment to the code, this is no longer an issue.  

What should we do after attempting to serve a business that is closed due to COVID?  

If there is a phone number, a call should be made to try to set up an appointment to physically serve them. If they are willing to accept service by mail or email, you should reach out to obtain the contact information of the agent or legal department 

What is the right way to serve a P.O. Box? 

You cannot serve a P.O. Box, you need to find a physical address for the party. Do not confuse a Postal Office Box (P.O. Box) with a private mailbox at a Commercial Mail Receiving Agency (CMRA) such as Mail Boxes Etc.The UPS Store, etc. CMRA mailbox holders usually sign an agreement to allow the CMRA to accept service of process on their behalf.  

Which types of pleadings need primary, secondary service of process? 

Generally speaking, any documents that are initiating a case require primary service of process. These are the types of documents that first alert the party to the case against them. Any subsequent documents can be delivered via secondary service, via mail, or electronically, depending on the local rules.  

How can you serve a corporation whose agent for service of process resigned?  

Under 416.10 CCP code, there are multiple people you can serve besides the agent for service of process. These include the President, CEO, or other head of the corporation, VP, Corporate Secretary, Treasurer, or general manager 

If the defendant’s attorney agrees to accept service for a summons and complaint, can you explain how we cross our t’s and i’s in this case?  

Endorse the Summons and Proof correctly (by including the name of the attorney or using 416.90 CCP – authorized person to accept if the attorney is in fact authorized) and have the Registered Process Server deliver the documents.  

Can One Legal try more than one address when the defendant has two properties?  

Yes, but OL requires one address per work order to have different process servers attempt simultaneously, if necessary.  

If copy is “mailed” by UPS or another overnight courier – is it still 10 days before substituted service is complete?  

10 days for substituted service is correct. If you overnight” the docs, you can count 2 days (like a fax) for subsequent documents, but for initial documents, the code specifically states service is complete after 10 days from the date of mailing.  

For federal court discovery, is email service sufficient, or is a hard copy also required?  Is prior consent required? 

Per Rule 5(b)(2)(E), a party must consent in writing to receive electronic service of discovery, and registration for electronic court filing does not substitute as automatic consent for electronic service of discovery. 

What are the appellate cases for serving the guard who is restricting access to a business on behalf of companies dodging service?  

Bein vs Brechtal (6 Cal. App. 4th 1387) is the most commonly cited.  

Does One Legal handle deposition subpoenas? 

Yes, One Legal will also handle deposition subpoenas but do not act as Deposition Officers. 

What is the process for serving an Amended Summons and Complaint after the original Summons and Complaint was already personally served?  

The process is the same as the initial service. 

Can you sub-serve employees at the employer’s business if both the company and the employees are being sued?  

Yes, per 415.20 (a) CCP you can serve an individual at their residence, place of business, or usual place of mailing. 415.20 (b) CCP allows for substituted service of companies.  

Can you serve a person when they are in court on another matter?  

Yes, but the server can get in trouble by the court for disrupting the proceedings. It is best to serve the individual outside the courtroom before or after the hearing to avoid any potential sanctions. A description (or photo) of the individual and a stakeout service in front of the courtroom usually does the trick! 

Do we have to order process service at the time of filing a complaint? 

No, you can order it separately or at the time of filing, both options are available.  

What about Certified Mail Return Receipt for P.O. Boxes?  

At this time, during the pandemic, One Legal does not offer certified Mail Return Receipt unless it is an Unlawful Detainer service, falling under 415.45 CCP (order to serve summons by posting and mailing), which would have to be at the physical address.  

What could the process server do if the individual being served is at a hospital?  

Typically, they would need all of the pertinent information to locate the individual at the hospital, and would be considered a “special” service. With COVID-19, however, it is not a realistic option, at this time.  

How can you complete a serve if the other Party is in a secured building requiring a key or access code for entry?  

If there is no guard, then typically the server can request a stakeout service and wait to follow someone at the door of the building. Registered Process Servers have temporary trespassing exemptions while in the process of serving. In some cases (if your server is good), they may know codes to particular buildings 

Do you include the required blank pleadings when you serve?  

One Legal will only provide ADR Packages at this time 

Why does it take so long to get back the signed proof of service for personal service?   

It varies per registered process server. Once the service is effectuated, the proof needs to be generated and then sent back to the server. Many servers are out and about serving and will not be able to sign the POS until they get back from the field. That pushes the return time typically 1-2 days after the proof has been generated. For out-of-state services, sometimes the time differences could add another day.  

Why doesn’t it work like a FedEx signature which is available online very soon after the signature is captured?  

Yes, the process serving industry needs to adopt new technology to speed up the receipt of the proof of service for personal service. But, signing Fedex packages is not the same as signing legal affidavits, which are subject to court guidelines. At One Legal, we use AdobeSign to digitally record the signature, date, and time to speed up the process for our customers.  

What is the due diligence requirement for identifying the correct mailing address for a Notice to Consumer when required by the subpoena?  

There is no due diligence requirement for Notices to Consumer. Discovery cut-off dates are set by the court, so it would behoove the subpoenaing party to find the address of the consumer before issuing the subpoena, and take into consideration the 10 days wait after mailing, plus the 15 days response time.  You can always personally serve the consumer, but that only cuts down the time by 5 days.   

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A big thank you to Kristian for sharing his expertise and for everyone who took the time to attend our webinar on maximizing service of process for your firm. 

About Kristian Pujol

Bringing his 20 years of experience in service of process and legal support services, Kristian oversees all process serving and court filing activities for One Legal and is the current VP and Director of the Board for CALSPro.

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