An Australian appellate court recently ruled that rapper Flo Rida could not be served via Facebook in a breach of contract lawsuit. Reversing a lower court's decision, the court ruled the social media site was not an appropriate means to serve notice to the elusive hip hop artist.
Though the decision took place in an Australian court, the case raises an interesting question: Can you get served via Facebook in the U.S.?
A concert promoter filed suit against Flo Rida when he was a no-show at a major music festival. When the promoter couldn't physically locate the star, an Australian judge gave him permission to e-serve Flo Rida on his Facebook wall. (Sidebar: Wonder how many "Likes" that post got.)
Contrary to (pop)ular belief, courts in Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United Kingdom have allowed for electronic service via Facebook -- but only if the individual is avoiding service or is exceptionally difficult to find.
In this case, the appellate court "disliked" the Facebook service. The judge was skeptical of the Facebook page's authenticity and questioned whether the wall post would come to Flo Rida's attention in a timely manner, reports the ABA Journal.
E-Service in the US of A
E-service is rare in the land of amber waves of grain. We Yankee lawyers have tried -- and failed -- to serve lawsuits via Facebook.
American courts generally share the gripes expressed by the Aussie appellate court. Namely, the pages are unreliable and there's no certainty that the person will read the DM or wall post within a certain time frame.
Earlier this year, however, a federal district court in New York ruled that lawyers for the Federal Trade Commission could serve legal documents on a group of defendants in India through Facebook.
Why? Because they supplemented it with a poke! (Not really.)
The attorneys provided ample evidence that the defendants actually operated the Facebook page. More importantly, the government also served the documents through email, so Facebook was essentially a backstop.
So is this the (amber) wave of the future for the red, white and blue? It's certainly plausible. Even the Texas legislature is considering a bill to adopt the practice.
- Flo Rida wins appeal over Fat As Butter festival no-show (The Sydney Morning Herald)
- 'Timely' Service of Process Should Take Less Than 461 Days (FindLaw's First Circuit Blog)
- Should Judges Consider Facebook Posts at Sentencing? (FindLaw's Technologist)
- Social Media Fishing Expedition Denied in NY Court (FindLaw's Technologist)