Gregory A. Neibarger and Joshua J. Burress Discuss Using Facebook to Provide Notice for Service of Process
As technology continues to make tasks cheaper and more efficient, the legal industry is discovering more ways to utilize its benefits – including social media. BGD attorneys Gregory A. Neibarger and Joshua J. Burress discuss using Facebook to provide notice for service of process in their recent Indiana Lawyer column.
What if Facebook could soon have a major (positive) impact on litigation?
While there are hosts of cases where one party uses another’s Facebook posts as evidence of conduct or intent in litigation, a far more fundamental and positive impact can occur by utilizing the popular social media service to provide actual notice for service of process.
To this effect, courts in New York and outside the U.S. have approved service via social media; under New York law a plaintiff can request a court to authorize an alternative method of service upon a showing that: (1) traditional forms of service would be ineffective; and (2) that the alternative method is reasonably calculated to reach the defendant.
As for Indiana, Neibarger and Burress explain that, generally speaking, Rule 4.1 of the Indiana Rules of Trial Procedure provides a party with four methods for effecting service upon an individual:
- Registered or certified mail
- Personal delivery
- Leaving a copy at the individual’s home
- Serving the individual’s agent.
However, if an individual cannot be located, Rule 4.9 (by way of Rule 4.5) states that service may be made “in any other manner as provided by” the rules.
Interestingly, Indiana has a rule analogous to the New York rule that allowed the judges in the New York cases to authorize the use of Facebook to effect service.
Rule 4.14(B) allows parties to seek an order to effect “service in a manner not provided by” the rules “when such service is reasonably calculated to give the defendant actual knowledge of the proceedings and an opportunity to be heard.” Thus, the framework exists for Indiana courts to allow and approve service by Facebook when a requesting party demonstrates that the “receiving” party regularly uses Facebook.