Many years ago, there was a casual labor service in downtown Los Angeles that distributed advertising circulars and fliers for business owners. I always thought the euphemism “casual labor” misleading. It failed to sufficiently emphasize the extreme casualness of the workforce, which was made up of skid row’s lost souls looking for enough money for their next bottle of Thunderbird or Red Lady 21.
Consequently, as these business owners belatedly discovered, their fliers and circulars didn’t always reach their intended destinations. In some instances, they wound up along curbs, in dumpsters or down the nearest storm drain.
I recalled this when I read about allegations that affidavits of service of process had been falsely asserted in Clark County, Nevada recently. According to news reports, a Las Vegas process-server is alleged to have perpetrated a fraud on the court for not attempting delivery of summons and complaints to the proper party defendants but saying he had. It’s not known if the allegations include reliance by the server on what used to be called “sewer service.”
“Sewer service’ refers to the process-server who instead of making proper delivery, tosses the legal papers down the nearest sewer and does not attempt delivery. While sewer-tossing may be more figurative than literal these days, it still means that service was not accomplished even though the servers later perjure themselves in a court-filed affidavit by swearing they did make delivery. The consequences are more severe to the litigants than for business owners whose misdirected advertising circulars get tossed in a storm drain.
Las Vegas process-server Maurice Carroll and his company, On Scene Mediations, are accused of submitting false affidavits swearing that it had served defendants in civil suits in Clark County justice courts. Carroll faces 35 felony counts.
7 years ago, Carroll was fined $2500 for not having a license by the Nevada Private Investigators License Board. A judge has issued a warrant seeking the unlicensed process-server.
Since in many cases, the service of process was not effectuated, the defendants failed to answer the complaints, which resulted in default judgments. What a way to take a default. And the extent of the problem is only now being determined. According to some reports, it could have a widespread impact on “thousands of cases.”
Fighting an old problem.
Fraudulent service of process is not new. Last April, for example, the New York State Attorney General filed criminal charges against American Legal Process and its CEO and president William Singler for a fraudulent business scheme in allegedly failing “to provide proper legal notification to thousands of New Yorkers facing debt-related lawsuits, causing them unknowingly to default and have costly judgments entered against them without the chance to respond or defend themselves.” See AG Sues Process Server ALP For “Sewer Service.”