Just How Far Must You Go To Serve A Lawsuit Upon a Defendant (Part 3 of a 3 Part Series)

HNWBusiness Law

By Fredrick P. Niemann, Esq. of Hanlon Niemann & Wright, a Freehold, NJ Trial & Litigation Attorney

In Parts 1 and 2 of this blog post, I discussed the appeal of a tax sale foreclosure action and the court’s legal analysis.  Read on for the outcome of the case.

Here, plaintiff contends it properly served defendant pursuant to Rule 4:4-5(a)(2) by mailing the summons and complaint to defendant’s address, but such rule provides a party may be served by mail as long as the serving party adheres to Rule 4:4-4(b)(1)(C).

But the court said that in order for the kind of service plaintiff endeavored to effectuate here to be effective, plaintiff first had to attempt personal service in accordance with Rule 4:4-4(a)(6). Only after a diligent attempt to personally serve a corporation in accordance with this rule fails may alternate modes of service be used. R. 4:4-4(a).

Here, the subject certification of inquiry failed to address what efforts were undertaken to locate the defendant, his principal place of business in New Jersey and the person in charge, as well as an employee in New Jersey acting in the discharge of his or her duties. In ascertaining the sufficiency of service outside of this State, the court must carefully scrutinize the affidavit required to ascertain whether plaintiff undertook a diligent inquiry.

Given the deficiencies in the certification of inquiry and the service of process of the summons and complaint, the Trial Court’s order denying defendant’s motion to set the final judgment aside was reversed and the matter remanded for further proceedings.

To discuss your NJ Trial & Litigation matter, please contact Fredrick P. Niemann, Esq. toll-free at (855) 376-5291 or email him at fniemann@hnlawfirm.com.  Please ask us about our video conferencing consultations if you are unable to come to our office.


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