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Flo Rida Lawsuit Can't Be Served via Facebook, Court Rules

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By Brett Snider, Esq. on August 28, 2013 11:35 AM

Rapper Flo Rida has been let off the hook by an Australian court, after it confirmed that the performer could not properly be served with a lawsuit on his Facebook page.

The recent decision by the Australian appellate court follows a 2011 ruling by an Australian district court judge that permitted an event management company, Mothership Music, the right to serve Flo Rida with a breach of contract suit by posting it on the singer's Facebook profile, reports the ABA Journal.

Using Facebook to serve lawsuits seems silly, and in this case, also incredibly ineffective.

Flaking Down Under

Mothership's breach of contract suit stems from Flo Rida's failure to appear at a 2011 music festival in Australia, despite the fact that he'd agreed to the gig and refused to return the $55,000 fee.

Since the Aussie company couldn't find Flo Rida, né Tramar Lacel Dillard, the lower court judge allowed Mothership to post a link to the court documents on Flo Rida's Facebook page, hoping this would constitute substituted service.

In the United States, it is typically necessary to serve a person with a summons and a complaint or else he or she will not be bound by that lawsuit.

The suit against the "Good Feeling" artist was dismissed precisely because the Facebook post was not considered proper service. Because Flo Rida wasn't served, the Australian court had no jurisdiction over Flo Rida for Mothership's claims.

Is Facebook Service Ever Legal?

Although Flo Rida told the Australian justice system to blow his "Whistle" in this case, it isn't a settled matter on whether serving a defendant via Facebook is legal.

Some U.S. federal courts have disallowed the "unorthodox" practice of serving papers via Facebook, claiming that a person's Facebook account is not a reliable method of service because of the inability to authenticate a Facebook user's identity.

Despite the fact that Dillard proudly sings "there's only one Flo and one Rida," Australian Justice Robert McFarlan agreed with this reasoning, saying the court lacked evidence that "the Facebook page was in fact that of Flo Rida," reports ABA Journal.

That isn't to say that Facebook service is out of the question; a New York federal court in March allowed service via Facebook when there was "ample reason for confidence" that the Facebook account belonged to the defendant.

Flo Rida isn't a terribly private figure, however, and the Australian suit could have been filed by serving him in person, maybe even at a concert he did attend.

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