Attorney Being Sued Over Failure to Warn Process Server

By January 23, 2015 February 5th, 2015 2 Comments

warn process serverAn appeal was just granted in the case of an attorney being sued by the wife of a private investigator who was killed while attempting to serve an individual. The basis of the case revolves around whether or not the attorney had a duty to warn the process server of any potential danger.

Greg Brown, a process server from Virginia, was serving Ali Abid, a Canadian citizen, in a case for attorney Sherwin J. Jacobs. Brown went missing and his body was discovered in his car three days later. Abid fled to Iraq and to date has not yet been found.

Debra Brown, the wife of Greg Brown, has since secured a judgment against Abid and also filed suit against Jacobs. The suit alleges Jacobs knew Abid was dangerous and also had knowledge Abid had recently purchased a gun.

Originally the case against Jacobs was dismissed due to the failure to show a “special relationship” between the attorney and the investigator that would create a legal duty to warn Brown. An appeal was granted, stating there was in fact sufficient evidence to show a special relationship did indeed exist and it was reasonably foreseeable that there was a probability of harm. The case will now be heard by the Virginia Supreme Court.

This will be the first case of its kind and will create case law surrounding the issue. It will be interesting to see how the Virginia Supreme Court interprets the incident and what the final ruling will be. Many times a dangerous situation that arises in process service cannot be foreseen, but I’m sure we can all agree if there was knowledge the situation could be potentially dangerous advance notice would be extremely appreciated.

Join the discussion 2 Comments

  • Ron Mason says:

    We as process servers have a potentially dangerous job. There have been a few instances where the client informed me that a servee was potentially dangerous. In these cases the attorney should consider using law enforcement agencies to effect service. They have the resources and proper training to deal with those type of situations. I’ve had a few situations that nearly spun out of control, but I was able to talk the servee into calming down. Being able to read people and recognizing when a person is starting to get aggressive is key to diffusing a potentially dangerous situation. Knowing when to pack it in and when to press ahead is crucial. Sometimes, like in this situation, there’s nothing we can do except pray that we leave with our lives. My thoughts and deepest sympathies are with the family. That could have happened to any one of us. I believe the attorney has his share of accountability in this. If he is sued, he does deserve whatever damages are awarded to the family. We cannot be expected to be sitting ducks out there. Good luck and be safe.

  • I know of this case. I had lunch with Greg Brown a week or so before this happened. He was not only the process server but he was working the surveillance on this domestic. I had invited him to our state symposium, the very week end he was killed. If he would have listened to me, he would have sat in on a class which dealt with Process Servers, and how not under any circumstance to go inside a house or business. Greg was a good investigator, but he let his guard down. Greg was a big man and for anyone to put him in the trunk of his car would have taken 2-3 people. They will eventually get this creep who killed him. Like to see who will represent him.

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