Service of Process by FedEx?


Can a summons and complaint that is sent to a defendant via FedEx, that’s not personally accepted by a defendant, be deemed proper service? 

It appears so, at least in North Carolina state courts, according to the recent unanimous NC Court of Appeals’ decision of Washington v. Cline.

There the issue was whether dropping off a FedEx package satisfied the phrase “delivering to the addressee” found in Rule 4(j)(1)(d) of the NC Rules of Civil Procedure.  The Court of Appeals noted that ”[d]fendants argued that a delivery service must personally serve natural persons or service untitledagents…with the summons and complaint in order to sufficiently ‘deliver to the addressee.’”  Defendants also argued that even if defendants ultimately received the FedEx package that service of process was still insufficient and the case was properly dismissed by the trial court.

The NC Court of Appeals disagreed, however, finding that the “crucial inquiry is whether the addressee received the summons and complaint, not who physically handed the summons and complaint to the addressee.” 

Note: the picture contained in this post is from and it doesn’t depict the delivery of a lawsuit to a little girl… I don’t think.


DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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