Believe it or not, service of process through social media is starting to become a reality. Of course, this all depends upon the precedents set in your home state. This concept means the legal system is finally catching up to other industries when comes to the integration of technology, and it certainly has its advantages.
In a New York court, in 2015, it was held that it is considered legal to serve process via social media sites. As precedent, the case at hand used an earlier example that allowed process to be served via email. That matter, in Florida, came about after the plaintiff was unable to serve an evasive defendant in a trademark infringement case.
Another case in New Jersey, in 2016, upheld service of process through the social media site, Facebook. The court stated that if all good faith efforts to effectuate personal service are unsuccessful, secondary means become necessary.
In What Circumstances is this Justified?
All the referenced matters suggest that the court will only approve service of process via the social media of a defendant if the circumstances meet a, state-specific test. In other words, for this to work, each remaining state’s courts need to specify what would constitute the use of social media to effectuate service. Otherwise, it will become commonplace and there may be widespread excuses made for the failure to locate defendants to engage in personal service. It could become an easy way out. And it could put private process servers out of business.
Are There Cases Where This is Impossible?
Yes, there are. There are some cases where personal service is required, regardless of whether a defendant is easy to find or not. Two examples of this are child custody cases and debt garnishment matters.
In child custody matters, the legal guardian filing the case is responsible for the opposing party receiving the summons, and personal service is the only way in which the court will accept that the party has been served. The only exceptions must be approved by court order and will only be accepted if service has been proved impossible to make after due diligence was exercised.
Debt garnishment is when the court seizes money owed to a creditor from the debtor’s payroll check. Debt recovery attempts are confidential by law and any form of contact about such matters should only be made directly with each party.
Possible Issues with Social Media Service of Process
There are several issues that plague this idea. First and foremost, how would one even know for sure whether a profile was authentic? It would be difficult to sign an affidavit swearing under oath with 100 % probability that the right person was served.
Of course, whenever dealing with anything online, hackers can also be an issue. Sensitive information may be obtained by illegal means and used in unethical ways.
Give Us a Call
Are you having difficulty locating a party to a lawsuit, such as an absent parent, or someone that owes you money? At Lafayette Process Servers, Scott Frank and his team are dedicated to finding even the most elusive defendants and serving your papers in a timely manner. Give us a call or stop in and we can discuss your process serving needs.
Donna Lee Hellmann is a New Orleans-area copywriter. The foregoing article has simply been presented for informational purposes only. She, and those at Lafayette Process Servers, are not attorneys. If you seek further information about this topic, contact an attorney in your local area.