Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Certified Mail Service of Process

Yesterday, I discussed how to save a few dollars on service of process.  Along the same theme, service by certified mail is possible on persons who reside outside of Mississippi.  Rule 4 of the Mississippi Rules of Civil Procedure provides as follows:

"(5)  Service by Certified Mail on Person Outside State.  In addition to service by any other method provided by this rule, a summons may be served on a person outside this state by sending a copy of the summons and of the complaint to the person to be served by certified mail, return receipt requested.  Where the defendant is a natural person, the envelope containing the summons and complaint shall be marked “restricted delivery.” Service by this method shall be deemed complete as of the date of delivery as evidenced by the return receipt or by the returned envelope marked “Refused.”
This is one Rule where the comments are more helpful than the Rule.  The comments provide that:

"Certified mail service is authorized by Rule 4(c)(5) and is limited to persons outside the state. The plaintiff must send a copy of the summons and complaint to the person to be served by certified mail, return receipt requested [and must thereafter mail by first-class mail, postage prepaid, a copy of the summons and complaint to the person to be served at the same address. The Proof of Service must indicate the date on which the summons and complaint were mailed by first-class mail and must also include as an attachment the signed return receipt or the return envelope marked “refused.” Service upon a foreign corporation, partnership or unincorporated association is effective even if the certified mail is delivered to and signed for or refused by a person other than the addressee, if the person accepting delivery and signing or refusing delivery is an officer or employee of the defendant who is authorized to receive or who regularly receives certified mail. See Flagstar Bank, FSB v. Danos, 46 So. 3d 298 (Miss. 2010) (finding service by certified mail upon a foreign corporation effective where the plaintiff addressed the certified mail to the foreign corporation’s registered agent for service of process and the certified mail was delivered to the proper address and signed for by the mail clerk rather than the registered agent). Service of process is not effective under Rule 4(c)(5) if the mailing is returned marked “unclaimed/refused”, “unclaimed” or “undeliverable as addressed.” See Bloodgood v. Leatherwood, 25 So. 3d 1047 (Miss. 2010)."

I am aware of at least one case where the issue pending is whether certified mail service of a private party is effective if someone else signs for it?  In theory, it is marked restricted delivery so no one should be able to get it.  From a practical standpoint, using the comments I would presume an agent can get it for the person.  Will be interesting. 

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