Yet another case of e-service has occurred in the United States.
The interesting thing about this case is that the e-service appears to have been approved in part due to the fact that the company owned and operated more than 34 websites. Being a web-based company, it would make sense that they utilized email on a frequent basis and had access to it. The likelihood of them checking their email was high in this instance. The court ruled that the service could only be completed as long as there was proof of email delivery.
While it can be argued that it cannot be assumed that everyone would have the same level of email interaction as a web-based company, this has certainly created a precedent. In other cases overseas, particularly in cases of service through Facebook, there needed to be proof that the individual was likely to receive the message. Through Facebook, recent pictures, updates or new friends on profiles which haven’t edited their privacy setting could be indicators of this.
But how does one know about the e-mail of an individual? Where is the line drawn?
As a process server, the primary concern is of this becoming the first line of action. For now the instances in which e-service was allowed was after alternate options had been exhausted and personal service was attempted in some format. But once the ice starts to crack, it spreads.
It begins with service as a last resort means on individuals and corporations which have a clear web presence. It moves on to any subject which has avoided all other types of services. And then it becomes the first type of attempt, wherein cheaper costs associated with emailing convince lawmakers to eliminate the need for personal service.
As personal service is part of our due rights, and as it cannot be guaranteed that an individual who opened the email is necessarily the subject, we can only hope that this doesn’t happen. It’s something to keep an eye on, as it may cause others across the country to pursue similar avenues of serving.
Stay vigilant process servers!