Brand new Florida law regarding service of process
The immunity enjoyed by residents of Florida’s gated communities is over for many. Security guards, doormen and other sentinels of gated communities and condominium complexes are now required to allow unannounced access to process services.
A bill sponsored by State Rep. John Patrick Julien, D-North Miami Beach and is in the process serving business, was passed unanimously by the Legislature and signed into law by Gov. Rick Scott. It became effective on 1st July. The bill also allows lawsuits to be served on registered agents or any employee of the registered agent if corporations. The registered agent is most likely to be an attorney in a commercial litigation practice.
Even though gated communities have increased dramatically in recent history Florida becomes on the third state, following California and Georgia, to pass a law that allows for the serving notice of lawsuit on residents of such communities according to the spokesman for the National Association of Professional Process Servers which is based in Oregon.
According to Julien prior to the bill the plaintiff would incur tremendously high amounts of costs and it could even take years to effect service. One alternative to serving the process personally of course is to publish notices but judges recognize the poor likelihood that a defendant will see a public notice. Julien said this is often not the best way to ensure fair due process.
House Bill 59 which was passed unanimously in both houses should end the necessity of process servers undertaking lengthy stakeouts at homes and workplaces.
The law has cleared up a technical issue too. On occasion judges have invalidated service because the process server didn’t initial the documents for recording in the place a judge specified and this led to confusion about where to annotate a document. This is now clarified in the bill in that the initial should be on the front page of the service documents.
Though several attempts to get a bill through the Legislature had been made in the past it is interesting that a freshman Democrat has been the successful one. Julien thinks that the law could help clear the backlog of foreclosure cases too.
Process servers are very resourceful people and will have to be extra resourceful if they are to serve documents on the residents on Fisher Island just off South Beach. Access to the Island is controlled by way of a privately operated ferry by the Islanders who can refuse to take anyone to the Island on the ferry.
So process servers may have to learn to swim or club together and get a boat to take them across the Island should there be a need for effecting service in the future.