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N Cal Atty
N Cal Atty, Lawyer
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Experience:  attorney at self
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I'm suing several people. I filed my original complaint with

Customer Question

I'm suing several people. I filed my original complaint with the U.S. District Court. Then I used the U.S. Postal system to serve these defendants copy of my original complaint and summons. One of the defendants refuse to pick up her copy from the US postal system. it sat there for 21 days. The Post Master at that branch send her letters to let her know and she refuse to pick it up. So, after 21 days postmaster told me to pick it up. So, I filed a default judgment motion but the judge said that I serve improperly because the package was return to sender. Was that improper?
JA: You're dealing with a tough issue. But don't worry -- you're in good hands. Because laws vary from state to state, could you tell me what state is this in?
Customer: Texas
JA: Have you consulted a lawyer yet?
Customer: Can't find anyone to help, so I have been doing it.
JA: Is there anything else the Lawyer should be aware of?
Customer: Yes, the Magistrate Judge is very biased in this lawsuit and he is trying to get rid of this case.
JA: OK. Got it. I'm sending you to a secure page on JustAnswer so you can place the $5 fully-refundable deposit now. While you're filling out that form, I'll tell the Lawyer about your situation and then connect you two.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  CalAttorney2 replied 1 year ago.

Dear Customer,
Thank you for using our forum. My name is ***** ***** I hope to assist you today.

Unfortunately, the court is actually correct - service by mail alone is not proper service for your federal lawsuit (if the defendant does not accept the certified mailing the service is not complete).

(See: FRCP 4:

While some of your defendants may have agreed to accept service in this manner (they signed for their certified mailings), they are not required to, and it is your obligation to have these defendants properly served (by some third person - you cannot serve your own lawsuit).

This link is to a "Pro Per Packet" for the Kansas District Court (you do not identify which court you are located in, most have their own "pro per packet" or guide, which you can find on the court's website), but this one is particularly well written, and all Federal Courts follow the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (including the rules of service).

For a difficult serve like this (the defendant is "ducking service") I would recommend that you retain a process server to actually serve your complaint, a good process server will charge you a minimal fee, actually track down the defendant and complete the service along with a proof of service (most will even file this document with the court for you so that you do not have to do so yourself - just make sure that they send you a file stamped copy for your records)).

You can get referrals to local process servers from the local (county) bar association, or find them online.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
in the Northern District of Texas, U.S. District Court it states that a person can serve the defendant by U.S. Mail according to FRCP Rule 4
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
No where in FRCP, Rule 4 does it say that you can serve a defendant by U.S. Mail show me the law that says that...
Expert:  CalAttorney2 replied 1 year ago.

Service of process is based on the defendant getting actual notice of the lawsuit.

If the defendant has not received actual notice of the lawsuit (you have not received notification that they picked up the complaint), then service is not complete.

(Service by mail is a shortcut to the more traditional personal service that is required for almost every other type of case, this is why it is required that the defendant actually receive the complaint, not simply that it reach a mailbox).

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Hello William,
I'm sorry you are wrong I just read the Pro Se Manual that you have as a link and it states "You can send the summons to the defendant(s) by certified mail. Fed. R. Civ. P. 4(e)(1), K.S.A. § 60-303, 304."
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
No, I don't want talk to you because you suck!
Expert:  CalAttorney2 replied 1 year ago.

Good luck with your case. Perhaps another expert will be willing to assist you.

Expert:  N Cal Atty replied 1 year ago.

New Expert here.

FRCP Rule 4. Summons


(c) Service.

(1) In General. A summons must be served with a copy of the complaint. The plaintiff is responsible for having the summons and complaint served within the time allowed by Rule 4(m) and must furnish the necessary copies to the person who makes service.

(2) By Whom. Any person who is at least 18 years old and not a party may serve a summons and complaint.

(3) By a Marshal or Someone Specially Appointed. At the plaintiff's request, the court may order that service be made by a United States marshal or deputy marshal or by a person specially appointed by the court. The court must so order if the plaintiff is authorized to proceed in forma pauperis under 28 U.S.C. §1915 or as a seaman under 28 U.S.C. §1916.


(e) Serving an Individual Within a Judicial District of the United States. Unless federal law provides otherwise, an individual—other than a minor, an incompetent person, or a person whose waiver has been filed—may be served in a judicial district of the United States by:

(1) following state law for serving a summons in an action brought in courts of general jurisdiction in the state where the district court is located or where service is made; or

(2) doing any of the following:

(A) delivering a copy of the summons and of the complaint to the individual personally;

(B) leaving a copy of each at the individual's dwelling or usual place of abode with someone of suitable age and discretion who resides there; or

(C) delivering a copy of each to an agent authorized by appointment or by law to receive service of process.

/// from

Local rules: do not allow service by mail.

As you can see, a summons cannot be served by mail.

I hope this information is helpful.