Some lawyers at Chase Bank must of thought themselves pretty clever when they came up with the idea to serve papers on Facebook to a particularly hard to find adversary.
But not so fast, said a federal judge.
While everyone and their grandmom may be on Facebook, U.S. District Judge John Keenan found that the world was still not ready for Facebook as a place where someone could be slapped with their legal papers, reports CNET.
In this case, Chase Bank accuses Nicole Fortunato of engaging in identity theft when the woman allegedly used her mom's identity to apply for a credit card and spend $1,243. After trying to go after the mother and learning that the daughter may have been behind the theft, Chase Bank tried to locate the daughter and discovered that no one knew exactly where Nicole Fortunato was. In the physical world that is.
While Chase Bank could not track down an actual address for Fortunato, their lawyers were able to track her down on Facebook. So the bank petitioned the court to allow service through the social media site, reports CNET.
Fail. While serving legal papers on Facebook (or some other social media site) may eventually become the norm, Judge Keenan found this method "unorthodox" and disallowed it. He explained that service through Facebook may not be reliable as there's no guarantee that the person with the name of the Facebook account is actually that person. In other words, anyone can make a Facebook profile under any name whether it be a real or fake.
Instead, the judge suggested that service of legal papers on newspapers may be the better way to go even suggesting service in a paper called the Syracuse Post-Standard.
If Judge Keenan was concerned about serving papers on Facebook and reaching the right person, he should think some more about whether serving papers on a small town newspaper will reach anyone at all -- real or fake.
- Federal Judge Refuses Request to Serve Party by Facebook, Orders Newspaper Publication Instead (ABA Journal)
- What are the defendant's options after being served with the complaint and summons? (FindLaw)
- Don't Bother Avoiding Process Servers (FindLaw's Law & Daily Life)