Monday, February 9, 2015

How Specific Does Your Return of Service Need to Be?


Get a load of this mouthful of a question presented to the FL Supremes on a pesky service of process issue:
IS A RETURN OF SERVICE, IN ORDER TO BE DEEMED REGULAR ON ITS FACE SUCH THAT THE PARTY SEEKING TO ESTABLISH SERVICE IS ENTITLED TO A PRESUMPTION OF VALID SERVICE, REQUIRED TO EXPRESSLY LIST THE FACTORS DEFINING THE “MANNER OF SERVICE” INDICATED ON THE RETURN THAT ARE OTHERWISE IDENTIFIED IN STATUTES DEFINING SERVICE BUT ARE NOT INCLUDED IN THE FACIAL LANGUAGE OF SECTION 48.21 DEFINING INVALID SERVICE?
Seems to me the easy answer to this is "No."

What sayeth the Supremators?
Section 48.21 clearly and unambiguously requires that a return of service include certain information. In fact, the Legislature left no discretion in this regard. In addition to the use of the word “shall,” the Legislature also provided a consequence for failure to comply with the statute’s requirements. Section 48.21 provides that although a failure to state the required facts is not fatal to the cause of action, it does invalidate the service itself. The Legislature’s specific provisions in this regard provide further reason not to read additional requirements into the statute. Moreover, this Court has no power to “extend, modify, or limit, [the section’s] express terms or its reasonable and obvious implications” by adding requirements not present in the statute. Id. (emphasis omitted).

Although the factors in section 48.031(1)(a) could easily be addressed in a return of service, the Legislature has not so mandated. The statute as written does not require the express inclusion of the factors in section 48.031(1)(a). Because the Legislature is best positioned to make a policy determination as to what should or must be included in a return of service under section 48.21, we decline to expand the requirements as Koster requests.

Although we conclude that the factors in section 48.031(1)(a) are not required to be expressly set forth in the return of service, we emphasize the importance that all process servers strictly ascertain and comply with the general requirements of the service of process statutes.
See, that's a no!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Lazy process servers.