Service of Process Allowed Through Facebook in NY

Apr 08, 2015

As technology changes and improves, there may be many implications for the legal field.  Up until now, the legal field has already seen technology change how lawyers operate with the advent of computers, cell phones, and e-mail.  A New York court in the case of Baidoo v. Blood-Dzraku recently took technological improvements in the legal field a step further and allowed the plaintiff to serve a divorce complaint on the defendant through a Facebook message. 

While some courts have allowed service through Facebook, they usually only do so when another form of process is also used, such as mailing the complaint to the defendant’s last known address.  See Fed. Trade Commn. v. PCCare247 Inc., No. 1:2012cv07189, 2013 WL 841037 (S.D.N.Y Mar. 7, 2013).  In New Jersey, a plaintiff can serve a defendant with divorce papers by delivering the complaint to the defendant in-person, sending the complaint through certified mail, or contacting the defendant’s attorney.  If these methods cannot be completed, the plaintiff may deliver the complaint to the defendant’s place of business or post it on their front door.  As a last resort, the plaintiff can also publicize notice in a newspaper. 

As the court in Baidoo recognized, oftentimes notice in a newspaper is ineffective for providing actual notice to the defendant and may be costly.  Thus, the court found that if plaintiff could authenticate the Facebook page, assure defendant regularly checked his page or could be alerted to do so, there was a better chance that defendant would actually receive notice.  In addition, service through Facebook would only be appropriate if the plaintiff had exhausted all reasonable efforts at contacting defendant and obtaining his address or place of business.

While in New Jersey, service through Facebook hasn’t been approved, it is possible that a New Jersey court could be presented with this issue and allow it, as did the court in New York.  Until then, in most cases, traditional methods of serving a defendant are adequate.  Nevertheless, it is important to contact an attorney when going through a divorce, especially if service of process is an issue.  If you have a question about your divorce or service of process, call the experienced attorneys at Sarno da Costa D’Aniello Maceri LLC to have all of your questions answered.  Contact us today at (972) 274-5200.