“Shout service” can still be effective service of process, even though the identified defendant doesn’t accept the papers. Most people know the defendant has a right to personal delivery of the papers. So the defendant has notice of what is happening, and can take steps to protect legal rights.
But what if the defendant simply doesn’t accept the papers? California law provides different ways by which service of legal papers can be accomplished.
Personal Delivery: This usually means an individual over the age of 18 years, and not a party to the lawsuit, delivered the papers into the defendant’s hands. See: California Code of Civil Procedure § 415.10. [Link: http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/codes_displaySection.xhtml?sectionNum=415.10.&lawCode=CCP ]
Substituted Service: But that is not the only way. If, after three tries at different times of day, the papers are dropped off at the defendant’s place of business, during regular working hours, or at the defendant’s residence. This only works if a person over the age of 18 years, at the person’s residence, or a person “apparently in charge” at the place of business, is served with the papers. The process server has to advise the recipient of the nature of the papers, and mail copies. Service is complete ten (10) days later. See: California Code of Civil Procedure § 415.20. [Link: http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/codes_displaySection.xhtml?lawCode=CCP§ionNum=415.20. ]
California law is clear, however: the process server cannot simply drop papers on the front porch, with nobody around to acknowledge receipt.
“Shout Service”: Shout service means the process server has identified the individual defendant by sight, either face-to-face or through a window, and was forced through the defendant’s inaction to drop the papers at the defendant’s feet. This can include dropping the papers at the defendant’s doorstep. Another term for this is “drop service.”
In Stafford v. Mach (1998), 64 Cal.App.4th 1174, the California Court of Appeals held that where a process server tried six (6) times to serve the defendant, and every time the male who answered the door denied being the named defendant, process was complete when the process server simply dropped the papers at the then-unidentified male’s feet, and also mailed the papers to the defendant’s residence.
And in In re: E.R. Ball (1934), 2 Cal.App.2d 578, service was proper when the process server tossed the papers on the ground in front of the defendant, who refused to pick them up. The process server was within twelve feet of the defendant, and made a positive visual identification. The process server also shouted, “Now you are served.” This was held to be adequate service by the court.
Process Service Can Get Complicated: There are a lot of other scenarios, and it can get complicated. Consequently, you’re much better off, when trying to service a lawsuit on an evasive defendant, hiring a licensed private investigator, who employs registered process servers.
• Code of Civil Procedure sec. 415.10: http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/codes_displaySection.xhtml?sectionNum=415.10.&lawCode=CCP
• Code of Civil Procedure sec. 415.20: http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/codes_displaySection.xhtml?lawCode=CCP§ionNum=415.20. ]
• Stafford v. Mach: http://law.justia.com/cases/california/court-of-appeal/4th/64/1174.html
• In re: E.R. Ball: http://law.justia.com/cases/california/court-of-appeal/2d/2/578.html
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