California Process Serving Cases and Opinions

These selected cases affect process servers and enhance the understanding of process serving laws and procedures in California. These opinions have been selected from over 600 that exist that directly or tangentially relate to service of process. If you find others please bring them to our attention.

 Supreme Court

Pasadena Medi-Center Associates v. Superior Court, (1973) 9 Cal.3d 773, 108 Cal.Rptr. 828, 511 P.2d 1180 – Service valid when made on a person with ostensible authority, when plaintiff relies on agent who represented his authority to receive process, and defendant is estopped from raising service objections because person served was not authorized to receive service.

Arrieta v. Mahon, (1982) 31 Cal.3d 381 – Marshall cannot evict tenant unless tenant has been named in the unlawful detainer lawsuit. (Resulted in legislation re prejudgment claim of right to possession procedure.)

Edwards v. Arthur Andersen, (2008) 44 Cal.4th 937, 189 P.3d 285, 81 Cal.Rptr.3d 282, 27 IER Cases 1761 – Employee non-competition agreements invalidated unless they fall within a statutory exception involving a partner or stockholder of a corporation.

 Court of Appeal

In re Ball, 2 Cal.App.2d 578, 38 P.2d 411 (1934) – Defendant cannot defeat service by walking away without taking documents.

Trujillo v. Trujillo, 71 Cal.App.2d 257, 162 P.2d 640 (1945) – Service valid when documents placed under windshield of defendant’s car and announcing service in a loud and clear voice.

Sanford v. Smith, (1970) 11 Cal.App.3d 991, 90 Cal.Rptr. 256 – Service by publication invalid without declaration re diligent search.

Golden v. Dungan, (1971) 20 Cal.App.3d 295, 97 Cal.Rptr. 577 – Process server who pounded on a door at midnight in a loud and boisterous manner may be actionable as a claim for emotional distress.

Ludka v. Memory Magnetics Int’l, 25 Cal.App.3d 316 (1972) – Service made on a person sharing an office with the defendant, but not working for the same company, was legal and valid.

Cory v. Crocker National Bank, 123 Cal.App.3d 665, 177 Cal.Rptr. 150, (1981) – Capacity notice improperly marked on summons substantially complied with the statute because the corporation was the only named party and the proper person was served.

MJS Enterprises, Inc. v. Superior Court, 153 Cal.App.3d 555, 200 Cal.Rptr. 286 (1984) – It is the capacity notice on the summons, not the process server’s proof of service, which asserts judicial power.

Slaughter v. Legal Process & Courier Service, 162 Cal.App.3d 1236 (1984) – Process server’s false proof of service is a foreseeable act resulting in negligent infliction of emotional distress.

Khourie, Crew & Jaeger v. Sabek, 220 Cal.App.3d 1009, 269 Cal.Rptr. 687 (1990) – Defendant will not be permitted to defeat service by rendering service impossible.

Bein v. Brechtel-Jochim Group, Inc., 6 Cal.App.4th 1387, 8 Cal.Rptr. 351 (1992) – Substituted service on a guard of a gated community who denies access may be sub-served as either a person in charge of the business or a competent member of the household when the defendant authorizes the guard to control access.

Ellard v. Conway, 94 Cal.App.4th 540, 114 Cal.Rptr. 2d 399 (2001) – Substituted service proper at Commercial Mail Receiving Agency, and due diligence requirement was satisfied by ascertaining forwarding address from US Postal Service.

Pelayo v. J.J. Lee Management Co., Inc.,  174 Cal.App.4th 484; 94 Cal.Rptr. 3d 502 (2009) –  Service on defendant was valid because the capacity notice was marked correctly, but the process server’s proof of service was incorrect resulting in a voided judgment, allowing the defendant to file an answer to the complaint.

Carr v. Kamins, 151 Cal.App.4th 929, 60 Cal.Rptr.3d 196 (2007) – Service by publication of a quiet title action invalidated on former owner’s daughter who lives at the subject property.

Citizens for Civil Accountability v. Town of Danville (Davidson Homes), 167 Cal.App.4th 1158 (2008) – Clerk’s e-mailed judgment, in accordance with trial court’s electronic fling and service order. does not constituted “mail” to trigger 60-day notice of appeal requirement in California Rule of Court 8.104(a)(1).
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Carol Gilbert, Inc. v. Haller, 179 Cal.App.4th 852 (2009)  – Summons that does not include defendant’s name of Doe defendant is invalid.
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Palm Properties v. Yadegar, 194 Cal.App.4th 1419 (2011) – Court erred in not applying evidentiary presumption of a registered process server’s proof of service under Evidence Code § 647.
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American Express Centurion Bank v. Zara,  199 Cal.App.4th 383, 131 Cal.Rptr. 99 (2011) – Court invalidates service based upon faulty proof of service.
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Portico Management Group LLC v. Harrison, 202 Cal. App. 4th 464; 136 Cal. Rptr. 3d 151 (2011) – Judgment rendered against a trust, and not its trustee, is unenforceable.
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Ramos v. Homeward Residential, Inc. 223 Cal.App.4th 1434, 168 Cal.Rptr. 3d 114 (2014) – Default Judgment Vacated for Failure to Properly Serve Corporation.
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The Bank of New York Mellon v. Preciado, 224 Cal. App. 4th Supp. 1 (Cal. Super. Ct. 2013) – Court Invalidates Service Because of Insufficient Proof of Service of Notice to Tenant.
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 Attorney General Opinions

Re Honorary Badges 90 Ops.Cal.Atty.Gen. 57 (2007) – Does a sheriff’s gift of an honorary badge to a private citizen violate California law?

Re Issuance of Badges to “Non-Peace Officers” 92 Ops.Cal.Atty.Gen. 46 (2009) – Discussion of the issuance of badges to public employees or officers who are not classified as “peace officers,” but who nonetheless possess limited peace officer powers.

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