Area of Law:
According to the New York Rules of Civil Procedure, after you file a lawsuit, you must provide the defendant with a copy of the filed document. This is called service of process. Service of process is an important part of any lawsuit because it provides the defendant with actual notice of the pending action. In addition, service of process ensures the defendant has an opportunity to respond to the action. For example, the defendant may wish to file an answer in a civil lawsuit. However, failing to serve the defendant with all filed documents can result in severe consequences, including the court dismissing your lawsuit. Therefore, it is very important to follow the correct procedure when completing service in New York.
A process server is the individual that delivers the filed court documents to the defendant. Any individual 18 years of age or older who is not a party to the action can act as a process server. This can include the plaintiff’s friends or family members. New York recognizes several methods of service. For example, the process server can personally serve the defendant. Personal service involves personally handing the defendant a copy of the document, and is the highest form of personal service.
In addition, New York recognizes substituted service as a proper method of service. Substituted service occurs by leaving the documents with an individual that is of suitable age and discretion at the defendant’s home or place of business. Next, the process server must send a copy of the documents through first class mail to the defendant’s last known residence or actual place of business. If the process server is unable to serve the defendant after numerous attempts, the state of New York allows a plaintiff to attach the documents to the defendant’s door at the defendant’s home or business, and then follow up with a mailing of the documents to the same address.
After the process server completes service, the process server will fill out an affidavit of service. The affidavit of service must be sworn to and signed in front of a notary. In addition, the affidavit must include the date, place and time when the process server delivered the documents. A description of the individual who accepted service must be included in the affidavit. The description of the individual should include a complete physical description of the individual including the person’s skin color, and approximate age and weight. While the New York Rules of Civil Procedure do not require that the affidavit of service be filed, most courts will request that the plaintiff submit a copy of the document to the court. The affidavit of service provides evidence to the court that the defendant received notice of the legal action. Therefore, a New York lawyer will recommend that you file the affidavit of service with the court after the process server completes the affidavit. The affidavit of service form is available online at the New York court’s website http://www.nycourts.gov/courts/nyc/civil/forms.shtml#affsofservice.
If you have any additional questions or concerns regarding how to complete service in New York, contact the New York Court Self Help Center, or visit http://www.nycourts.gov/courts/6jd/forms/SRForms/servproc_howto.pdf.