Pick your favorite jurisdiction in the U.S.

Hypothetical Facts

  1. A wants to serve B with a complaint and notice to appear in court.
  2. The address on B's ID card is address C.
  3. B does not live at nor have any contact with anyone at C. (And hasn't for several months.)
  4. A serves court papers for B at address C via process server who rings the doorbell and when an adult answers the door, hands the service paperwork to adult D.


Is A's service of B valid?

2 Answers 2


Under Fed. R. Civ. P. One can be served according to the state law or:

(2) doing any of the following: (A) delivering a copy of the summons and of the complaint to the individual personally; (B) leaving a copy of each at the individual’s dwelling or usual place of abode with someone of suitable age and discretion who resides there; or (C) delivering a copy of each to an agent authorized

None of those would apply to your facts. Thus you would have to find some jurisdiction that would allow service of process under your fact. I dare say that none will and that due process would come into play.

In NJ, due process applies and service may be made

(1) Upon a competent individual of the age of 14 or over, by delivering a copy of the summons and complaint to the individual personally, or by leaving a copy thereof at the individual's dwelling place or usual place of abode with a competent member of the household of the age of 14 or over then residing therein, or by delivering a copy thereof to a person authorized by appointment or by law to receive service of process on the individual's behalf;

It has to be the current place of abode.


Service of process in most cases needs to be served to the person being sued "personally." If you make a few attempts and can't get them served, most courts will allow sub-service, where a process server would serve papers on a member of the current household who is over 18 years old.

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