Quote of the Day - Hollywood is like Picasso's bathroom.
In the first-year of law school, law students learn about service of process, which is the first step in informing the defendant that the plaintiff has filed a lawsuit. The concept takes in notions of due process, notice and the opportunity to be heard. Usually, a party is served when a copy of the Complaint (or if you're in another state, say like Pennsylvania, Illinois or Ohio, it can be called a Precipae) is physically handed to them. Like all areas of law, there are innumerable exceptions and other ways to accomplish the task. Here in California, Complaints are frequently served by the Marshall.
Most of the exceptions to the general rule that service has to be effected personally relate to how you serve business entities, such as corporations. With an individual, there are several methods of subservice, but they're generally restricted to members of your household. When you know a party is represented by a lawyer, that lawyer (with permission) can accept service of process.
But can service on a career manager (whatever that job title means) be effective? Since so many of us have career managers ;-), it's a question we're dying to know the answer to - at least for those of us who live in that quintessential area of LA-LA land known more affectionately as Hollywierd.
Yes, once again, Hollywood has sparked new law, this time in the dry-as-a-bone area of law called civil procedure. With this new decision, Civ Pro law professors everywhere are wringing their hands with glee because they can now keep students from falling asleep by invoking celebrity names as part of their lectures.
TV and stage celebrity Rue McClanahan got sued by her former partner, apparent former boyfriend and another celebrity, Dirk Summers, for $10,000,000 (plus punitive damages, of course) arising out of a failed business partnership. The lawyer who represented the Plaintiff in the suit elected to serve the Complaint on McClanahan's "career manager." The career manager testified that she forwarded the Complaint to others, including McClanahan's lawyer who was defending McClanahan in another suit involving the same Plaintiff and same lawyer. McClanahan's lawyer complained to the Plaintiff's lawyer that service was ineffective, but got no response.
Plaintiff's counsel then served a Notice of Default on the career manager and proceeded to get a sizable $3.75 million judgment against McClanahan, who promptly moved to set the default aside, and when that effort failed, appealed.
The appellate court saw it quite differently than the trial court. In an opinion worthy of inclusion in a law school Civ Pro casebook, it called foul, reversing the default and judgment. The Court ruled service on the "career manager" was ineffective, especially when the Plaintiff's lawyer knew that McClanahan was represented by counsel.
Apparently, a large judgment against you isn't a good career choice.