Sample Motion for Alternative Service


This is a sample of a motion in which the plaintiff is asking the court to approve an alternative method of serving the complaint and summons on the defendant. Normally, a copy of the complaint and summons must be hand-delivered to a defendant. But in some circumstances if the defendant cannot be located, or if they are deliberately avoiding service, the plaintiff can ask the court to allow service to be effectuated in a different way.





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Plaintiff Jane Random (“Plaintiff”), by counsel, files this Motion for Alternative Service of Process under Md. Rule 3-121 and states as follows:
        1.   Plaintiff has gone through monumental efforts to serve Defendant, as follows:
                     (a)  Incurred $579.00 in attempting to serve the Defendant at his last known address and in trying to locate alternate service addresses (Ex. 1);
                     (b)  Filed a Courts and Judicial Proceedings § 6-311 Certification to no avail (Ex. 2);
                      (c)  Spent unnecessary time researching how to effectuate service through the Hague Convention because Defendant’s former house mate falsely told Plaintiff’s process server that Defendant moved to Sri Lanka (Ex. 3);
                      (d)  On three separate occasions, requested that GEICO (Defendant’s carrier) accept service on behalf of its insured, which GEICO’s claims department refused upon each request (Ex. 4);
                      (e)  Noted GEICO’s deposition to compel disclosure of Defendant’s last known address (Ex. 5).
        2.   Through Plaintiff’s numerous contacts with GEICO on this issue, Plaintiff discovered that Defendant is fully aware of Plaintiff’s service attempts, and has discussed same with GEICO. It has been specifically discovered that on July 9, 2019, according to GEICO, Defendant contacted GEICO to ask about the legal papers that were showing up to his former house in Maryland.  This also confirms that Defendant’s former house-mate attempted to conceal Defendant’s whereabouts in an effort to evade service when she informed Plaintiff’s process server that Defendant had moved out of the country.
        3.   The case of Wiant v. Hudson, 101 Md. App. 74 (1994) is instructive on these facts. In Wiant, the plaintiff jumped through numerous hoops in repeated efforts to serve the defendant.  The Court found that allowing the defendant to be served through its insurance carrier would be an appropriate means of alternative service.
        4.    Such is an appropriate recourse here. Defendant clearly has knowledge of this suit, as does its carrier, GEICO.  GEICO is in communication with its insured regarding this suit.  Service of process is not a game of catch me if you can.  Effectuating service is a procedural formality intended to give soon-to-be litigations notice of suit.  In this case, it is evident that Defendant has that notice, and is simply evading service. 
        5.    Pursuant to Rule 3-121(c), “[w]hen proof is made by affidavit that good faith efforts to serve the defendant” in person or by certified mail have not succeeded and service under subsection (b) of that Rule is inapplicable or impracticable, “the court may order any other means of service that it deems appropriate in the circumstances and reasonably calculated to give actual notice.”
        6.    Importantly, Defendant need not evade service to be served by alternate means. “The various sub-parts of Rule 3-121, however, do not require that an individual actually attempt service by the modified service requirements set forth in subsection (b) prior to setting forth facts in an affidavit to the court that service pursuant to that subsection would be ‘inapplicable or impracticable.’”  Picket, 365 Md. at 87.
        7.    In another analogous case, Pickett v. Sears, Roebuck & Co., 365 Md. 67 (2001), the Court of Appeals found that similar attempts warranted alternative service. Pickett, 365 Md. at 84-85 (“[c]ourt was presented with an affidavit documenting the good faith efforts of a private process server to effect personal service on Pickett on at least five separate occasions.”)
        8.    On the facts at bar, this Court may rely on Pickett, Wiant and the plain language of Rule 3-121 to grant Plaintiff’s Motion for Alternative Service. The above history evidences that it is fundamentally unfair to force Plaintiff to continue incurring mounting litigation expenses while running in circles trying to serve a Defendant – who has full knowledge, and is on notice, of this lawsuit – whose former house-mate is making false representations on his behalf to hide his present location.  On these facts, traditional service is not practicable and alternative service is justified.
        WHEREFORE, Plaintiff respectfully requests that this Court issue an Order authorizing service of process upon the Defendant via the Defendant’s automobile insurance carrier, GEICO, via GEICO’s resident agent – CT Corporation, 2405 York Road, Suite 201, Timonium, MD 21093.



I, Ronald J. Justice, hereby certify that on this 4th day of December, 2020, a copy of the foregoing was mailed first, postage prepaid, to: