In response to burdensome rules and requirements put into place by the DCA, the New York Professional Process Servers Association (NYSPPSA) will be joining Article 78 proceedings being filed against the Department of Consumer Affairs.
The association will not be putting forward any costs for the proceedings. Attorney Myra Sencer will be handling the submission of the Article 78 proceeding, which will go above the Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) to the courts asking them to review the situation regarding process servers in NYC. Article 78 proceedings are usually only filed once the party has attempted to reconcile the issue through the agency. In this situation however, NYSPPSA feels the proceeding is more than warranted.
Since 2010 New York process servers have been dealing with the DCA’s newly imposed rules and requirements in the wake up a massive scandal which resulted in over 100,000 collection cases being overturned due to sewer service. But NYSPPSA says the DCA keeps provoking to the point of no choice.
Getting around the rules
NYSPPSA and many other process servers believe the DCA has essentially created their own way around past settlement agreements through “legislation by coercion”.
In December 2010 the DCA opened the floor for comments in regard to the newly imposed rules. Despite testimony from numerous process servers, including the President of the New York State Professional Process Servers Association, the DCA rejected the proposed rules and changes.
In response to burdensome cost and time requirements put into place that would effectively create too high a barrier for many to continue working as a process server in New York City, NYSPPSA filed a lawsuit against the agency.
Months into the lawsuit in April the DCA acquiesced to some of the proposed rule changes. The revised rules were ones NYSPPSA felt every process server could live by and dropped the lawsuit.
Shortly after process servers began getting consent orders from the DCA which would supersede the settlement agreement from the lawsuit. The message in the consent orders was clear to the process servers who received them: sign and approve the consent orders or have your license revoked.
Lack of industry knowledge
Part of the problem, says Larry Yellon, President of NYSPPSA, is those who are putting the fines into place have no knowledge of the industry or its rules and nuances.
For example, he received a phone call from a woman who owns an agency. The DCA was fining her because her server didn’t describe the color of the hallways when he did a nail and mail. Yet the residence was a private home – there were no hallways.
The agency owner ultimately won when she contested the fine, but only after spending money and time to do so. This is just one of many instances of such fines.
The fines are so frequent some agencies have taken on the expense of hiring a compliance officer to make sure every I is dotted and every t crossed to avoid fines. The cost to do so isn’t one many process service companies can afford though.
The result? Many mom and pops are being pushed out of the business.
The recent renewal period for NYC process server and agency licenses has highlighted the difficulties NYC process servers encounter when dealing with the DCA and a lack of clarity.
Back in January, the DCA sent out letters a month and half prior to the end of the license term on February 28th requesting every agency to fill out a report. Based on this report, the DCA decided 46 agencies did not quality for renewed licenses. They did however give out temporary letters for a renewed license.
But there are discrepancies between what these agencies are being told. Some were told their license would be good until May 31st while others were simply told their licenses wouldn’t be renewed.
The worst part for those who were denied licenses? The DCA can do so without provided a hearing, unlike every other type of industry regulated by the agency.
The Article 78 proceedings have yet to be filed. Once filed, NYSPPSA is hopeful for a thorough review of the DCA’s proceedings against process servers by the court.