Painter v. Blue Ridge Reg’l Jail Auth.

Due to improper service, the court will vacate a default judgment granted against the defendant for over $700,000 in damages for sexual assault. But the plaintiff will have an extension of time to serve.

Credible testimony shows that service was not posted at the defendant’s usual place of abode and, therefore, that the plaintiff’s service was invalid.

However, the defendant had actual notice of the suit. This notice doesn’t prevent him from asserting a personal jurisdiction defense. But it does support granting the plaintiff additional time to serve under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 4(m). The plaintiff made diligent efforts to serve process properly, and there’s no indication that she had any control over the failure of process servers to do so. The plaintiff was given the impression that the defendant might reside in Florida, which suggests that the defendant was attempting to evade service. And it’s unlikely that the defendant will suffer prejudice from an additional extension of time.

Judgment vacated.

Painter v. Blue Ridge Reg’l Jail Auth., No. 6:17cv34, Jan. 23, 2019. WDVA at Lynchburg (Moon).



Categories: Opinions, U.S. District Court - Western District of Virginia

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