Earlier this month, an appellate court in Georgia issued a written opinion in a car accident case brought by a man who was involved in an accident with a school bus. The issue presented to the court was whether a default judgment that had been entered against the school district should be reopened based on the plaintiff’s failure to effectuate proper service. Ultimately, the court concluded that the plaintiff’s method of service was proper and declined the opportunity to reopen the default judgment.
The plaintiff filed a personal injury lawsuit against the defendant school district, claiming that it was negligent in the hiring, training, and supervision of the school bus driver who allegedly caused the accident. After filing the lawsuit in the local court, the plaintiff hired a process server to serve the defendant school district, as was required by law.
The process server went to the school district’s main building, passed a secure entrance point, and asked where he could serve the district notice of the pending lawsuit. The process server was directed to the desk of the assistant to the Human Resources Director, where he served the school district.
When it came time to respond to the pending lawsuit, however, the school district failed to answer the complaint. Eventually, a default judgment was entered against the district. Shortly thereafter, the school district finally responded, asking the court to lift the default judgment because the district had not been properly served. The district argued that under the law, the plaintiff needed to serve the “chief executive officer or a clerk thereof.” The district argued that the assistant to the Human Resource Director was not considered a “clerk,” and therefore service was improper, thus excusing the district’s failure to answer the complaint.
The court of appeals disagreed with the school district. Specifically, the court explained that when a defendant seeks to challenge the method of service used by the plaintiff, the defendant bears the burden to show that service was insufficient. Here, the court held, the school district failed to present any evidence to show the court that the assistant to the Human Resources Director was not the proper party. The court explained that the school district should have presented evidence showing why that was the case. As a result of the court’s decision, the plaintiff’s default judgment will remain in place.
Have You Been Injured in a Maryland Car Accident?
If you or a loved one has recently been injured in any kind of Maryland car or truck accident, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. However, as the case discussed above illustrates, a failure to properly follow all of the procedural rules may result in a significant delay and even the premature dismissal of your case. The skilled injury attorneys at the Maryland-based law firm of Lebowitz & Mzhen, LLC have decades of experience handling all types of personal injury cases across Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C. Not only do we have an in-depth understanding of the procedural requirements with which our clients’ cases must comply, but we are also experienced in the underlying substantive legal doctrines as well. To learn more, and to speak with a dedicated personal injury attorney about your case, call 410-654-3600 today to schedule a free consultation.
More Blog Posts:
April Is Distracted Driving Awareness Month, Maryland Car Accident Attorney Blog, published April 11, 2017.
Parental Liability for Car Accidents Caused by Minors, Maryland Car Accident Attorney Blog, published April 25, 2017.