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Current Developments in the Commercial Divisions of the
New York State Courts
Posted: March 20, 2015

Evidence That Process Server Was Unlicensed Sufficient to Rebut Plaintiff’s Prima Facie Showing Of Proper Service

On March 12, 2015, the First Department issued a decision in Matter of Pasanella v. Quinn, 2015 NY Slip Op. 02001, remanding a motion to vacate a default judgment for a traverse hearing based on evidence that the process server was not properly licensed. The Court held:

Appellant’s initial, conclusory denial of the receipt of service was insufficient to rebut petitioner’s prima facie evidence of proper service, as demonstrated by the affidavit of the process server. Although a party seeking renewal should offer a reasonable justification for failing to present any new facts on the prior motion, courts have discretion to relax this requirement and to grant such a motion in the interest of justice. Here, when seeking renewal, appellant submitted evidence suggesting that neither the process server, nor the agency he worked for, was licensed to serve process in either New York or Connecticut, which we conclude was sufficient to rebut petitioner’s prima facie showing and warrant a traverse hearing.

(Citations omitted.) In New York, process servers are subject to various licensure and record-keeping requirements. In New York City, process servers are licensed and supervised by the Department of Consumer Affairs, which maintains a publicly-available database of licensed process servers and process service agencies that can be accessed at: https://a858-elpaca.nyc.gov/CitizenAccess/. The process server’s non-compliance may not be enough on its own to negate service, but as this decision illustrates, it can be a part of a mix of facts the court will consider in evaluating the sufficiency of service.

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