The definition of the term sewer service in litigation is the topic of this blog post. The term sewer service was coined in reference to situations where figuratively and in some cases literally, process servers will throw the summons and complaint in the sewers near the homes of defendants such as debtors and then sign a false proof of service thus allowing the plaintiff who is usually a debt collection company to obtain a default judgment from the court.
The State of California is the main focus of this post as that is where the great majority of cases that I work on are located although the basic principles discussed in this blog post should be quite similar throughout the United States.
The practice of sewer service is both despicable and thoroughly illegal, yet it has been going on for over 40 years in various types of litigation cases and is growing more and more widespread all over the United States, particularly in debt collection cases involving debt collection companies and debt buyers.
I want to stress that any judgment entered without valid service of process is void anywhere in the United States as the United States Supreme Court ruled unanimously in a case that was decided over 25 years ago that any judgment entered where the defendant was not properly served is void, violates due process and can be set aside at any time.
I honestly do believe that most process servers are honest and would never falsely claim that they served someone whom they had never served. However I also know from my own personal knowledge working in California and Federal litigation since 1995 that extreme cases of sewer service are a fact of life that you have to deal with in the legal profession. Brief descriptions of two of the more extreme cases that I have worked on are shown below.
I recently worked on a case where the defendant was supposedly served by substituted service at a mail drop that he had not used as a mailing address for over 2 years, the lawyers for the plaintiff had sent a demand letter to a different post office box several months before. The defendant had no knowledge of the lawsuit or judgment until he was informed by someone that the real property he had sold to them had a lien on it. He then went to the Courthouse and copied the entire Court file. The documents show that one process server with one company had went to the mail drop office several times but that they “cannot verify the address is still used by the defendant”. Another document filed several months later by another process server with another company claims that they performed substituted service on the female employee “who verified the address is still used by the defendant.”
Several years ago I worked on another case where on the exact date and time that the alleged service was made the defendants were on an airplane that was flying to the Philippines!
Situations such as the two I described earlier are generally good situations in which to seriously consider filing a motion to vacate the default and judgment under Code of Civil Procedure section 473(d) on the grounds that the default and judgment are void due to defective service of process resulting in a judgment void for lack of personal jurisdiction and also request that service of the summons and complaint be quashed.
Attorneys or parties in California that would like to view a portion of an 11 page sample motion to vacate a void judgment under Code of Civil Procedure section 473(d) and quashing service containing brief instructions, a memorandum of points and authorities with citations to case law and statutory authority, sample declaration and proof of service by mail sold by the author can see below.
Attorneys or parties who wish to view portions of over 250 sample legal documents for California and Federal litigation created by the author of this blog post can use the link shown below.
The author of this blog post, Stan Burman, is an entrepreneur and freelance paralegal who has worked in California and Federal litigation since 1995 and has created over 255 sample legal documents for California and Federal litigation. If you are in need of assistance with any California or Federal litigation matters, Mr. Burman is available on a freelance basis. Mr. Burman may be contacted by e-mail at DivParalgl@yahoo.com for more information. He accepts payments through PayPal which means that you can pay using most credit or debit cards.
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Please note that the author of this blog post, Stan Burman is NOT an attorney and as such is unable to provide any specific legal advice. The author is NOT engaged in providing any legal, financial, or other professional services, and any information contained in this blog post is NOT intended to constitute legal advice.
The materials and information contained in this blog post have been prepared by Stan Burman for informational purposes only and are not legal advice. Transmission of the information contained in this blog post is not intended to create, and receipt does not constitute, any business relationship between the author and any readers. Readers should not act upon this information without seeking professional counsel.