Recent Changes to Florida Service of Process Rules

Recent Changes to Florida Service of Process Rules

By Ruby Jo May 15, 2024 Posted in Administrative Law

Civil litigators know all too well the frustration of an inability to perfect service of a complaint. This situation arises often when a defendant corporation is no longer in business. Fret no more! During the 2022 legislative session, Senate Bill 1062 was signed into law by the Governor. This legislation makes significant changes to the procedures and methods for service of process for civil actions in Florida state courts.  The changes went into effect on January 2, 2023.

Fla. Stat. Sec. 48.061, which directs service on partnerships, limited liability partnerships, and limited partnerships, and Fla. Stat. Sec. 48.062, which directs service on a domestic limited liability company or registered foreign limited liability company, were amended to allow the Secretary of State to receive service of process when all other means have been unsuccessful.

Both statutes set out a “hierarchy” of individuals litigants must first attempt to serve. Practitioners should review the relevant statutes for each statutes’ specific hierarchy of service. Once the hierarchy has been exhausted and service cannot be perfected on those listed in the respective statute, the litigant may serve the Secretary of State.

Florida Statute Sections 48.061 and 48.062 provide:

If, after due diligence, the process cannot be completed . . . the process may be served as provided in s. 48.161 on the Secretary of State . . .

Fla. Stat. Sec. 48.161 allows for service on the Secretary of State through personal delivery, registered mail, certified mail, by use of a commercial firm regularly engaged in the business of document or package delivery, or by electronic transmission. The Secretary of State must keep a record of all process served, showing the date and time of service. Litigants must then be sure to follow the requirements of s. 48.161 in providing notice of service and a copy of the process to the opposing party, filing proof of service, and completing and filing an affidavit of compliance within forty days of service on the Secretary of State.

Compliance with the statutes is necessary to protect your rights. If you fail to complete the steps laid out by the statutes both prior to and following service on the Secretary of State, you could lose your claim for good.

 

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