Sample Motion for Alternative Service

Sometimes, the biggest impediment to getting a case moving is serving the defendant.  When these efforts prove fruitless, a motion for alternative service is often the most appropriate path.  Below is an example of such a motion. 

IN THE CIRCUIT COURT OF MARYLAND FOR ANNE ARUNDEL COUNTY

TAMEKA JONES,
- Plaintiff,

v.

MARY K. STANSBURY
- Defendant.

Case No.: C-09-155978 MT

Plaintiff’s Request for Motion for Service by Alternative Method

The Plaintiff, Tameka Jones, by and through her attorneys, Laura G. Zois and Miller & Zois, LLC, moves this Honorable Court to allow service of process upon Defendant, Mary Ann Starsbury, by alternative method and for reasons, states:

  1. That on July 20, 2020, a Writ of Summons was issued in the case of Tameka Jones v. Mary Ann Stansbury, Case No: Case No.: C-09-155978 MT by the Clerk of the Circuit Court for Anne Arundel County, Maryland, to [Defendant’s name and address].
  2. That the address for Defendant Mary Ann Stansbury was known to be at 1125 Van Gogh Way, Apt. A, Bel Air, Md 21015, at the time of the incident relating to this case and Plaintiff attempted to serve Defendant at that address but the package was returned unserved.
  3. That Dangerfeld Investigations, Inc., found the Defendant Stansbury's address was actually 1831 Segelboot Lane West Palm Beach, Florida 33414 (See attached Exhibit A).
  4. That the West Palm Beach County Sheriff was employed to serve Defendant at the 1831 Segelboot Lane West Palm Beach, Florida 33414 address but they were unable to serve her. In fact, the Sheriff’s Department was informed that Defendant Stansbury had actually returned to Maryland. (See attached Exhibit B).
  5. Plaintiff's counsel performed an Internet search for Defendant through Accurint and obtained the Segelboot Lane address.  
  6. Defendant is required by law to keep her addresses correct with the Motor Vehicle Administration. She is either refusing to pick up their certified mail or is no longer living at the aforementioned addresses.
  7. Plaintiff has incurred expenses to locate Defendant.
  8. At the time of the occurrence, the vehicle operated by Defendant was insured by Electric Insurance. 
  9. The adjuster assigned to this claim is Brian Perry.  
  10. Plaintiff was unable to serve Defendant at these locations and requested that the Court allow alternative service upon Electric Insurance, Defendant’s insurance company.
  11. Defendant’s insurance company is aware of this claim and the lawsuit it has already retained defense counsel.
  12. There would be no prejudice to Defendant allowing for alternative service to their insurance company.

Under Maryland Rule 3-121(c), the only appropriate path under these circumstances is to allow the plaintiff to serve an employee of Electric Insurance the Writ of Summons and Complaint.   

Accordingly, Plaintiff prays this Honorable Court grant an Order allowing service of process upon Defendant, Mary Anne Stansbury, by mailing a copy of the Summons and Complaint to the Defendants' insurance carrier, Electric Insurance, Claims Examiner Brian Perry, at 75 Sam Fonzo Drive, P.O. Box 1030 Beverly Massachusetts 01915, and for such other and further relief this Court deems appropriate.

Respectfully submitted,
Miller & Zois, LLC

Laura G. Zois
1 South St, #2450
Baltimore, MD 21202
(410)779-4600
(410)760-8922 (Fax)
Attorney for the Plaintiff

More on Alternative Service of Process

The Due Process Clause afforded to all of us under the 14th Amendment mandates that defendants receive adequate notice before judicial proceedings are accorded finality.  So it is important to have procedures to make sure defendants have adequate notice of proceedings against them. 

On the other side of the coin are plaintiffs' lawyers like us.  We have had to deal with unreasonable efforts by defendants to avoid receiving process.  This is form over substance and should be deterred as well. 

So there needs to be a mechanism of service of process when a defendant evades service or when service of process is unnecessarily difficult, costly, or impractical. Today, there are questions as to whether email and social media like Facebook and Twitter can serve as adequate means of putting defendants on notice a claim against them.  

These are alternative forms of service did not apply for the sample motion for alternative service provided above.  But, at a minimum, when you are filing such a motion and have made efforts to notify the defendant through alternative means like social media and email, you should note those in your motion. 
  • Fed. R. Civ. P. 5(b)(2)(E) permits service of pleadings and other papers "by electronic means if the person [being served] consent[s] in writing."  But this does not help much with hard to serve defendants. 
  • New York Law on Alternative Service of Process
  • Help Center (designed to assist in putting together PI cases from start to finish with samples and instructions)
  • Sample Personal Injury Motions (more practical motions like this one)
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