Washington Case Law Updated: Service by Mail Requires Evidence that Defendant is Avoiding Service
From the Desk of Kyle D. Riley: In Washington, service by mail is permitted only if the Plaintiff can provide evidence that the Defendant was avoiding service. What type of evidence will suffice? Read on to find out.
Claims Pointer: In this case arising out of a car accident, the Washington Court of Appeals held that without evidence raising the inference that the Defendant was avoiding service, either by fleeing the state or by hiding within the state, it was improper to allow substitute service by mail. The case is a reminder of the requirements for substitute service, an important consideration for plaintiffs and defendants alike.
Forsberg v. Griepp., No. 33742-1-III, Washington Court of Appeals, Division 3 (October 13, 2016) (unpublished)
Katherine Forsberg (“Forsberg”) and Weston Griepp (“Griepp”) were involved in a car accident in February 2012. In February 2015, Forsberg filed a negligence action against Griepp. It was not until late April 2015 that Forsberg learned that Griepp no longer lived at the address listed in the accident report. Notably, Griepp was 19 at the time of the accident and was living at his father’s home.
Forsberg had less than one month remaining to effect service. She filed a motion requesting permission to serve Griepp by mail, arguing that she had exhausted all reasonable measures to locate Griepp and he was avoiding service. The trial court allowed Forsberg to serve Griepp by mail at his father’s address, and her attorney mailed the summons and complaint immediately.
Griepp filed a motion for reconsideration of the order authorizing service by mail. He also filed a motion for summary judgment arguing that service at his father’s address was ineffective, and the action should be dismissed because the statute of limitations had now expired. In a declaration, Griepp stated that he had moved to Spokane...