Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Serving Legal Notice via Facebook message?

In a March case out of Brooklyn, New York (Superior Court), a judge allowed a woman to "serve" her elusive husband a divorce summons via Facebook.

So does this mean that the future of giving notice of a lawsuit to the opposing party can be done electronically without consent from the party being served?  The answer is "no."  Without consent of both parties, the initial papers in a lawsuit are still "required" to be delivered to the opposing party by a form of personal service.  Or at least that you attempt personal service, unless that would be futile.  Most states then allow alternate service if personal service is not possible.

If you read the actual case out of New York, instead of just the headlines on the news services, this particular approval was given as "alternate" service, not as a "new" primary means of serving notice of the lawsuit.

In this particular case, the Plaintiff did not know where the Defendant was located, so she couldn't give him "personal service" (in person delivery of the court papers) or send him registered mail.  So the court allowed her to give "substitute service", which in this case, was via Facebook. 

As long as the substitute or alternate service is reasonably calculated, under all the
circumstances, to apprise a defendant of the lawsuit, it fulfills the requirements provided to us under established case law.  In this particular case, the Judge stated that a Facebook message met this requirement, as an alternate form of service.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Uninsured Motorists and how Police can find them

It is being reported that since last fall, all Michigan police departments have online access to insurance information from all automotive insurers in Michigan (updated by the insurers twice a month).  Every police officer in a cruiser can access this information via the cruiser's laptop by logging into LEIN (Law Enforcement Information Network). 

Case law provides that a police officer does not need any reasonable suspicion or probable cause to randomly run license plates through the LEIN database.  So what does this mean to you?

A police officer could stop you just because he ran your license plate through LEIN and LEIN showed that you did not have current insurance on your vehicle.  This could be a good thing to keeping uninsured motorists off the road, but it is not without its peril.

What if you changed insurers or just got your insurance three days ago?  That may very well NOT show up in LEIN as current insurance. That alone could give the police officer reason to stop you, when you in fact are insured. 

Because he had reasonable suspicion to stop you in the first place, what about a subsequent search?  What if he viewed an open container in the back seat?  What if smelled an illegal substance?

As for now, it is reported that some police departments will not use the LEIN insurance information as the primary reason for a stop, but they also state that they COULD if they wanted to.