Monday, December 8, 2014

Saving Money on Service of Process

The Mississippi Rules of Civil Procedure provide a few ways to save on service of process fees.  Rule 4 of the Mississippi Rules of Civil Procedure provides under Section 3 that: 

"(3)  By Mail.
(A)  A summons and complaint may be served upon a defendant of any class referred to in paragraph (1) or (4) of subdivision (d) of this rule by mailing a copy of the summons and of the complaint (by first-class mail, postage prepaid) to the person to be served, together with two copies of a notice and acknowledgment conforming substantially to Form 1-B and a return envelope, postage prepaid, addressed to the sender.
(B)  If no acknowledgment of service under this subdivision of this rule is received by the sender within 20 days after the date of mailing, service of such summons and complaint may be made in any other manner permitted by this rule.
(C)  Unless good cause is shown for not doing so, the court shall order the payment of the costs of personal service by the person served if such person does not complete and return within 20 days after mailing the notice and acknowledgment of receipt of summons.
(D) The notice and acknowledgment of receipt of summons and complaint shall be executed under oath or affirmation."

So if the other party does not return the acknowledgment within twenty (20) days, absent good cause, the court shall award the cost of service of process.  The language shall removes the discretion element from the court and makes it mandatory.  Due to paranoia, I am often selective on using this section unless I am confident the other party is not going to run.  I also want to make sure that I can still get process served within the 120 day window as required by Rule 4.  Still if you have a medical malpractice case with twenty-four named defendants, saving $5,000 on service of process that could be used on expert fees is certainly something to consider. 

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