Last week we blogged about the flood of LVNV Funding lawsuits being filed in the State of Florida. This morning we had a client come into our Naples office with one of the LVNV lawsuits.
Attached please find Collier County‘s latest small claims summons - with no date to appear. It says you will be notified of a future court appearance. All I can say is: WTH?
This is very concerning for several reasons and leaves open many questions.
What if the person who was served was not the actual defendant? Documents can be served on anyone who is 15 or older?
What if the defendant moves? In the age of COVID, this is not unheard of especially with many landlords chomping at the bit to start evictions. How are they going to get notified of the new court date? Where is the “Notice” going to get mailed?
What if the defendant is served somewhere other than the address listed in the summons? Who has a duty to update this information?
I reached out to a professional process server, Brandon Muscato with Accurate Serve in Fort Myers. Brandon has served process/legal documents for our firm for over 6 years. He was glad to answer my questions.
Brandon addressed the different ways that this summons could be served and who exactly it could be served upon. He stated that the goal is Due Process. Due Process simply means that the defendant received notice (proper service of process) and will have an opportunity to be heard in court. Here it seems that the Defendant is only getting half.
Brandon stated that many defendants do not understand what a summons is and what is being asked of them, and they ask him: What does this mean? Usually, with a small claims summons, he can tell them that they were sued and they need to appear in court at this date and time. But, according to this summons, even he cannot tell them when they need to appear in court.
As a professional process server, his goal is to make sure the proper person was served with notice and to report back to the Court. Once that is done, his job is complete. Here, he can complete his job, but the person being sued may be left out in the cold.
When I asked him about potential problems after the service is completed, he stated that, in his opinion, many things could go wrong with this procedure and frustrate the entire service of process procedure, meaning that once he properly serves them, the person may not get the next notice. I think Brandon’s observations were right on the mark.
I can see this “new procedure” in Collier County indirectly hurting the poorer communities and the minority communities indirectly. The problem will compound if the Governor lifts the eviction moratorium. I am going to watch this one closely.