An 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.