VA Supreme Court Rules No Duty To Warn Process Servers

By March 2, 2015 One Comment

warn process serverIn a recent suit brought by the family of a process server who was killed while attempting service, the Virginia Supreme Court has stated that attorneys have no legal obligation to warn process servers of a potentially dangerous service.

The family of the process server, Greg Brown, had appealed the original decision, but the Virginia Supreme Court sided with attorney Sherwin John Jacobs.  The Virginia Supreme Court stated that no lawyer who hires a process server has a duty to warn them that the defendant might be armed and dangerous, as was the case when Brown when to go serve the defendant.

What does this mean for process servers?

This ruling serves as a warning to not assume the lawyer involved would have told you if the service could potentially be a dangerous situation.

It means process servers should always be going into each service aware the situation could turn and prepared to the best of their ability to handle it.

It also means process servers should ask more questions of any service where they feel the subject may be a risky serve.

While the majority of services go smoothly for the most part, it’s important for process servers to stay vigilant on each service and be aware that in emotionally charged situations there is the potential for a subject to become hostile.

Join the discussion One Comment

  • Tony Klein says:

    It’s certainly good advice to ask questions about potentially risky services. If a server does ask, and is told that the person is potentially dangerous, and proceeds knowing the risk and is injured, it may be problematic in a subsequent tort action. it would give a defendant an affirmative defense of assumption of risk.

    This is a legal definition of assumption of risk:

    n. 1) taking a chance in a potentially dangerous situation. This is a typical affirmative defense in a negligence case, in which the defendant claims that the situation (taking a ski-lift, climbing a steep cliff, riding in an old crowded car, working on the girders of a skyscraper) was so inherently or obviously hazardous that the injured plaintiff should have known there was danger and took the chance that he/she could be injured. 2) the act of contracting to take over the risk, such as buying the right to a shipment and accepting the danger that it could be damaged or prove unprofitable.

    This case did not involve assumption of risk because the defendant (attorney) didn’t warn the server. It reasoned that even if the attorney knew of the risk, the attorney had no special relationship with the server, and had no duty to notify him about it.

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