We get to see and do some fun things as lawyers. Usually serving papers on folks isn’t something we watch. We hire a process server, or let the local law enforcement take care of it. But sometimes you have a special party, one that you make an effort to be there for. Just in case your process server needs a witness!
We had one of those special sorts lately. The Gentleman was an executive for Big Company—no, that’s not really their name—who was in town for a speaking engagement. He was from out of state, so we were particularly excited to be able to serve him in Texas—in Dallas, even, and eliminate the sometimes pesky personal jurisdiction discussion.
Our process server approached the Gentleman from out of town, announced himself and his business and offered the Gentleman the papers. The Gentleman declined to take them, so the process server dropped them at his feet. The Gentleman then bent down, picked them up, and walked away—disgruntled I’m sure.
So what’s the legality of dropping the papers at his feet? Completely legal, if he refuses to accept service.
“Rule 103 of the rules of civil procedure provides, among other things, that the citation shall be served by any person authorized by rule 103 by “delivering to the defendant, in person, a true copy of the citation with the date of delivery endorsed thereon with a copy of the petition attached thereto.” Tex. R. Civ. P. 106(a)(1). Generally, a person within the jurisdiction has the obligation to accept service of process when it is reasonably attempted. See Dosamantes v. Dosamantes, 500 S.W.2d 233, 237 (Tex. Civ. App.—Texarkana 1973, writ dism’d). He is usually held to have been personally served if he physically refuses to accept the papers and they are then deposited in an appropriate place in his presence or near him where he is likely to find them, if he is also informed of the nature of the process and that service is being attempted. Id.; see also Texas Industries, Inc. v. Sanchez, 521 S.W.2d 133, 135 (Tex.Civ.App.-Dallas), writ ref’d n.r.e., 525 S.W.2d 870 (Tex.1975).” Rogers v. Moore, 2006 WL 3259337, 1 (Tex. App.—Dallas, 2006).
So why did our Gentleman bother refusing service? Perhaps he thought it would help him, somehow. But then, folks do a lot of crazy stuff to avoid service.
Remember folks, at the end of the day there’s no substitute for having a lawyer of your own.
And as always, our blog postings are not legal advice, nor do they constitute an attorney-client relationship!