Service Via FedEx Improper; Invalidates Default

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By Nicholas Datlowe

April 1 — A Florida company can't collect on a $2.5 million default judgment after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit March 30 held that the defendant hadn't been properly served.

De Gazelle Group Inc. sued Tamaz Trading Establishment, a Saudi Arabian company. De Gazelle sent the service via FedEx, and later correspondence revealed that Tamaz had actual notice of the suit.

But the Eleventh Circuit held that service was improper anyway. Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 4(f) details how individuals outside the U.S. may be served, and service by FedEx is only allowed if ordered by a court.

There was no such order here. Even though Tamaz had actual notice, “notice does not confer personal jurisdiction on a defendant when it has not been served in accordance with Rule 4,” the court said.

It therefore reversed the lower court's order refusing to vacate the default judgment.

Judge Stanley Marcus wrote for the court.

Judges Gerald Bard Tjoflat and William H. Pryor Jr. joined the opinion.

Celebration Law P.A. and David Chico Law Group represented De Gazelle. Conrad & Scherer LLP and Barry G. Roderman & Associates P.A. represented Tamaz.

To contact the reporter on this story: Nicholas Datlowe in Washington at ndatlowe@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jeffrey D. Koelemay at jkoelemay@bna.com