Florida courts generally obtain jurisdiction over a defendant when a summons and complaint is properly served on the defendant. When the defendant resides outside Florida, the process server is usually unfamiliar with Florida’s process service requirements. This often results in invalid service of process, which means the court lacks jurisdiction. In such cases, the defendant’s Florida attorney can file a motion to quash service and dismiss for lack of jurisdiction over the person.
For example, Florida Statutes Section 48.194(1) requires that service outside the State of Florida be made “in the same manner as service within this state by any officer authorized to serve process in the state where the person is served.”
Florida Statutes Section 48.031(5) states that service in Florida requires the person serving process to place on the copy served “the date and time of service and his or her identification number and initials for all service of process.”
Florida Rules of Civil Procedure 1.070(e) provides that “[t]he date and hour of service shall be endorsed on the original process and all copies of it by the person making the service.”
Florida Rules of Civil Procedure 1.070(e) provides that “a copy of the initial pleading shall be delivered to the party upon whom service is made.”
The courts have held that these requirements “that govern service of process are to be strictly construed to insure that a defendant receives notice of the proceedings . . . [T]he burden of proving the validity of the service of process is on the plaintiff.” Anthony v. Gary J. Rotella & Associates, P.A., 906 So.2d 1205, 1207 (Fla. 4th Dist. App. 2005), quoting Carter v. Lil’ Joe Records, 829 So.2d 953 (Fla. 4th Dist. App. 2002). “Absent strict compliance with the statutes governing service of process, the court lacks personal jurisdiction over the defendant.” Anthony v. Gary J. Rotella & Associates, P.A., 906 So.2d 1205, 1207 (Fla. 4th Dist. App. 2005), quoting Sierra Holding v. Inn Keepers Supply, 464 So.2d 652 (Fla. 4th Dist. App. 1985).
Improper service of process should be raised at the first opportunity by the defendant’s Florida lawyer.
Process servers outside Florida must follow Florida laws when serving a summons and complaint for a Florida lawsuit in another state.
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