Friday, April 23, 2004

No service under 8.01-288 unless notice of motion for judgment also received

One of the great and mysterious statutes in Title 8.01, the civil procedure volume of the Virginia Code, is Va. Code 8.01-288, regarding service of process. The Code establishes a hierarchy of methods for service of provides, each with its details and specifications, and then comes out in section 8.01-288 and says that the service of process is good if the defendant gets, no matter how or why. The result is that defense lawyers get antsy when their client sends them a fax of the suit papers - a courtesy copy perhaps, faxed or mailed by plaintiff's counsel - with the note that there has been "no service." Yet there are cases, and I have been in at least one, where that faxed pleading was indeed deemed to be served, when the issue came to court. See Doe v. Connors, 796 F. Supp. 214, 218-19 (W.D. Va. 1992) (papers faxed to office in Washington, D.C., deemed served under 8.01-288).

In Lifestar Response of Maryland, Inc. v. Vegosen, the Virginia Supreme Court confirmed at least that there can be no service under 8.01-288 unless the whole process is received, including the Virginia law equivalent of a summons, which in Lifestar and other law cases is a notice of motion for judgment under Rule 3:3.

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