What happens if a defendant in a civil suit is not properly served?

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What happens if a defendant in a civil suit is not properly served?

Landlord claims I was served with a summons; they claim that they served me twice prior but I never received anything. Even the description of the person is inaccurate. I finally got a letter saying I have to go to court but I was never properly served what does this mean for me?

Asked on March 23, 2012 under Bankruptcy Law, New York

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

If you were not properly served, then the court has no jurisdication, or power, over you, and the case should be dismissed. (Though note: it would be a dismissal "without prejudice," which means the landlord could re-serve you and try again.)

The issue may come down to being factual: what evidence can the landlord present that you were served in accordance with court rules, versus what evidence can you present that you were not? You would raise lack of service as a defense in the case; you could try filing a motion for dismissal based on it. Consult your local court rules for instructions.


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