Last month, Minnesota Litigator noted the Supreme Court is taking up a “service of process” (“SOP”) issue in a case where an adult son in a residence to be foreclosed received the summons and complaint and the question to be answered was whether this was sufficient SOP for “dad” to be bound by the foreclosure proceeding on the property. “Dad” claimed that his son did not “reside” in the property and that he, Dad, was unaware of the foreclosure, and that he, Dad, could not be considered to have have been “served process” by virtue of the fact that his adult son was handed the summons and complaint while at the residence in foreclosure.
How about where a lawyer contacts a hospital’s “Risk Management Department,” asks to be directed to a person authorized to accept service of process of a lawsuit against various physicians and other care providers, and the person at the hospital says that she is authorized to accept service?
But she’s not. She’s not authorized to accept service for the hospital itself, much less the named doctors and nurses…The Minnesota Supreme Court has now taken up another case in which the Court will focus on “sufficiency” of “service of process.” (There were also other problems with SOP in DeCook, which you can read about if you like here.)
(1) Should courts adopt a bright-line rule and make plaintiffs (or plaintiffs’ lawyers?) follow SOP requirements to a “T”?
(2) What if the consequences of a defective SOP are that the allegedly injured plaintiff is left high and dry if the case is dismissed for insufficient SOP (that is, time ran out to bring the suit again with proper service (tripped up by the statute of limitation bar))?
(3) What if the actual defendants had actual knowledge of the lawsuit all along? Is that relevant? What if they say they did not have actual knowledge but the plaintiff has reason to believe they are lying?