United States District Court, S.D. Alabama, Southern Division
K. DuBOSE CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
action is before Plaintiff Candace McCorvey's Motion for
Default Judgment (doc. 6). Upon consideration, and for the
reasons set forth herein, McCorvey's Motion is DENIED at
moves the Court to enter a default judgment against Defendant
Lalita LLC. In support, McCorvey provides the Court with the
Proof of Service and copy of the return receipt for certified
mail. The Server signed the Proof of Service and declared
that the summons had been served on “Sanjay Patel, Reg.
Agent who is designated by law to accept service of process
on behalf of … Lalita, LLC d/b/a One Stop 36”
(doc. 5). The return receipt is addressed to Patel as
Registered Agent (doc. 5, p. 2). The return receipt was
signed July 18, 2019 and the box for “Agent” is
checked. Since Patel was the “Addressee”,
checking the box appears to indicate that the person who
signed was not Patel but an “Agent” of Patel who
is the “Reg. Agent” of Lalita LLC. Additionally,
the signature and the printed name of the person who received
the return receipt are both illegible. Thus, it is not known
whether Patel signed or if an “Agent” for Patel
entry of default is appropriate when a party against whom
affirmative relief is sought fails to plead or otherwise
defend a case.” Hines v. Regions Bank, __
Fed.Appx. __, 2019 WL 3403494, at *2 (11th Cir. July 29,
2019) (citing Fed.R.Civ.P. 55(a), (b)) “But a
party's delay may result in a default judgment only if
the party has been properly served because ‘a court
lacks jurisdiction over the person of a defendant when that
defendant has not been served.'” Id.
(citing Pardazi v. Cullman Med. Ctr., 896 F.2d 1313,
1317 (11th Cir. 1990)).
4(h)(1) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides for
serving a domestic corporation. The Rule states that a
corporation “must be served . . . “in a judicial
district of the United States: A) in the manner prescribed by
Rule 4(e)(1) for serving an individual; or B) by delivering a
copy of the summons and of the complaint to an officer, a
managing or general agent, or any other agent authorized by
appointment or by law to receive service of process[.]”
docket indicates that the summons and complaint were not
delivered, but instead were sent by certified mail.
Apparently, McCorvey attempted to serve Lalita LLC under Rule
4(e)(1). Pursuant to that Rule, McCorvey may serve Lalita LLC
by “(1) following state law for serving a summons in an
action brought in courts of general jurisdiction in the state
where the district court is located or where service is
made[.]” Fed.R.Civ.P. 4(e)(1).
Alabama law, Rule 4(i)(2) of the Rules of Civil Procedure
provides for service of process by certified mail. Rule
4(i)(2)(B) applies when the attorney or the party serves the
summons and complaint. In relevant part, the Rule states that
In the case of an entity within the scope of one of the
subdivisions of Rule 4(c) [including limited liability
companies], the addressee shall be a person described in the
Ala. R. Civ. P. 4(i)(2)(B) (bracketed text added).
“appropriate subdivision” of Alabama Rule 4(c)(6)
provides that service of process on a limited liability
company “shall be made ... by serving an officer, a
partner (other than a limited partner), a managing or general
agent, or any agent authorized by appointment or by law to
receive service of process.” Ala. R. Civ. P. 4(c)(6).
Business Entity Records from the Alabama Secretary of State
show that Patel is Lalita LLC's registered agent (doc.
6-1, p. 24).
respect to certified mail, Alabama Rule 4(i)(2)(C) explains
when service by certified mail is effective:
Service by certified mail shall be deemed complete and the
time for answering shall run from the date of delivery to the
named addressee or the addressee's agent as evidenced by
signature on the return receipt. Within the meaning of this
subdivision, “agent” means a person or entity
specifically authorized by the addressee to receive the
addressee's mail and to deliver that mail to the
addressee. Such agent's authority shall be conclusively
established when the addressee acknowledges actual receipt of
the summons and complaint or the court determines that the
evidence proves the addressee did actually receive the
summons and complaint in time to avoid a default.
Ala. R. Civ. P. 4(i)(2)(C).
not clear whether the certified mail was not delivered to
Patel. The certified mail was received by an unknown
“Agent” “as evidenced by signature on the
return receipt” Id. Rule 4(i)(2)(C) clarifies
that “'agent' means a person . . . specifically
authorized by the addressee to receive the addressee's
mail and to deliver that mail to the addressee.”
Id. The Rule further explains that the
“authority” of the unknown Agent “shall be