Tuesday, September 04, 2012

civil procedure - dismissal for lack of service by sheriff

Fonzone v. Tribune Corp. - Superior Court - August 31, 2012


Dismissal of case for lack of proper service affirmed.

Plaintiff/Appellant had complaint served other than by the sheriff. Other methods of service do not supplant Rule 401, which requires service to be made by a sheriff in most instances. There is nothing in the record showing service by the sheriff.

Appellant’s alternative argument, that service deficiencies are irrelevant where Appellees in fact had the complaint, are unavailing. As our Supreme Court has explained:

Service of process is a mechanism by which a court obtains jurisdiction of a defendant, and therefore, the rules concerning service of process must be strictly followed. Without valid service, a court lacks personal jurisdiction of a defendant and is powerless to enter judgment against him or her. Thus, improper service is not merely a procedural defect that can be ignored when a defendant subsequently learns of the action against him or her. Cintas Corp. v. Lee's Cleaning Servs., 700 A.2d 915, 917-18 (Pa. 1997).