Attention – Lawyers and Private Investigators!

Lawyers are always in need of process servers to serve civil papers. More often than not, they use the services of a Private Investigator or process service company.

If the P.I. or process server is credible and ethical, there should not be a problem. If on the other hand, the server “claims” to have served the paper, charges the Law Firm for services rendered but does not actually effect the necessary service, it could be the makings of a significant lawsuit. This is what happened in Massachusetts.

The plaintiff in that casewas awarded $3,000,000.00 when the State Court ruled that the Bermuda businessman, Donald P.Lines, had not been served by the company hired to effect the service, Boston based “Stokes & Levin”. It later transpired that the company had used pre-fabricated stamps of the signature of a process server who no longer worked for the company. It did not enhance the image of the Securities and Exchange Commission either as the SEC were the ones who hired “Stokes & Levin”.

I have heard stories of one elderly P.I. in Virginia who gets confused when he serves civil papers and sometimes puts the same time on two different papers even when they are served 20 miles or more apart. Yet, he continues to get requests for service from lawyers that he has known a while. I hope this story serves as a reminder to him and those who hire him that you stand to lose a lot if you don’t get it right – both in reputation and finacial terms. There’s no shame in hanging up the gun belt when the sun starts to set on your career. It’s always better to go out a winner than a defendant.