Serving the Servers: Process Server Sued For Undelivered Lawsuits

You may have been served with a lawsuit -- and you don't even know it. Too bad the courts do.

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    Belovs pleaded guilty to the charges back in October 2011.

    ABC Legal Services does more than serve litigants with papers informing them of a lawsuit. They also claim to contact the dead.

    The Bay Area-based process server is contracted with debt-collection firms to serve residents with paperwork informing them to pay up or be sued. But Bay Area residents are countersuing, saying that not only are the lawsuits fraudulent, but that they were never served with papers in the first place, despite process servers' claims, according to the Bay Citizen.

    Take for example the tale of the Santa Clara wife who ABC Legal claims to have served in February 2011. That would be quite a feat -- she died in November 2010, the Web site reported. Another server claims to have hand-delivered papers to a woman at her home, while that woman was hospitalized, the Web site reported.

    A Fremont gym teacher was served on a recent afternoon at his school -- when he was coaching basketball at another school, six miles away.

    The tales go on and on, part of an ongoing problem with the unregulated world of process servers, most of whom make little more than $15 per service, and thus have financial incentive to "fudge," the newspaper reported.

    Improper service can be difficult to prove in court, Santa Clara County Deputy District Attorney Victor Chen told the Web site.

    “Short of having the documents that show it’s factually impossible to be served, the process server’s word is going to win out every time,” he said. "It’s rife for abuse. They know that more times than not, they will get away with it.”

    And it's particularly damaging for someone served with a debt-collection lawsuit. If someone is sued, and not served when the server says they are, they won't show up to court. With a no-show in court, a default is issued in their case, which means the collection agency can begin garnishing wages or taking away bank accounts, the Web site reported.

    Sixteen residents have filed lawsuits against ABC Legal Services, the Web site reported, but attorneys like Chen point out the need for actual regulation -- and consequences for so-called "sewer service," when court documents are never served and merely tossed away.