April 15, 2014

Colorado Supreme Court: C.R.C.P. 4(d) Does Not Establish Service According to International Agreement as Exclusive Means of Serving Defendant Located in Foreign Country

The Colorado Supreme Court issued its opinion in In re Willhite v. Rodriguez-Cera on April 23, 2012.

Civil Procedure—Service of Process—Hague Service Convention.

The trial court issued an order quashing substituted service in Colorado on the sister of a defendant residing in Mexico. After previously granting substituted service under C.R.C.P. 4(f), the trial court determined that C.R.C.P. 4(d) requires that service on a defendant located in a foreign country be made according to international agreement. Because Mexico and the United States are parties to the Convention on Service Abroad of Judicial and Extrajudicial Documents in Civil and Commercial Matters, the trial court concluded that plaintiff must serve defendant Rodriguez-Cera via the Hague Service Convention.

The Supreme Court held that C.R.C.P. 4(d) does not establish service according to international agreement as the exclusive means of serving a defendant located in a foreign country. The Court further held that C.R.C.P. 4(d) does not require that service on a defendant located in a foreign country actually occur abroad and does not prohibit a plaintiff from serving a defendant within the United States if otherwise authorized. The Court held that substituted service in accordance with C.R.C.P. 4(f) provides a valid alternative to service abroad. Although the Hague Service Convention is implicated whenever state law requires the transmittal of documents abroad to effectuate service, the Court concluded that the transmittal of documents abroad is not necessary to effectuate service under C.R.C.P. 4(f); therefore, the Hague Service Convention was not implicated.

Summary and full case available here.

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