Is Service by Email Allowed in New York?

Electronic methods for filing legal concerns and submitting requirements have been prevalent in New York courts since the early 2000s. No such option was available for New York process servers who have always been strongly advised to serve documents to recipients in person. It wasn’t until 2008 that a case became a precedent for “e-service” in New York’s civil court.

So to answer the question of whether it is possible to serve defendants through email, the short answer is yes. This is a privilege, however, that is granted only to a few.

Let’s review how this practice came about, and what plaintiffs need to do to be allowed to serve legal documents through email.

Case Study: Snyder v. Alternate Energy Inc.

In the case of Snyder v. Alternate Energy Inc., the plaintiffs, despite their best efforts and earlier request for an extension of time to make service, were unable to find the physical whereabouts of the defendants. The only address they obtained was an electronic address or email address.

Because of this, the plaintiffs sought permission from the court to serve the defendants electronically — specifically, by emailing them a copy of the lawsuit filed against them.

After studying the supporting evidence submitted by the plaintiff (e.g., a detailed account of all the efforts made to find the defendants’ physical location and serve them in person), the judge ruled that the traditional methods for service were impracticable. He granted the plaintiff’s motion to perform an electronic service via email.

Today, motions for electronic service also follow the same procedure that took place in Snyder v. Alternate Energy Inc.

Steps to Obtain Authorization for E-Service

typingBelow are the steps and prerequisites to getting a court-issued authorization to serve legal papers via email:

  1. The plaintiff’s camp must first exhaust all traditional means of service as stated in the Civil Practice Law and Rules – CVP § 308:
  • Serving papers in-person (personal delivery)
  • Leaving the legal papers with someone else who can be trusted to give the papers to the defendant (substituted delivery)
  • Leaving the legal papers at the defendant’s residence, workplace, and other places where they are likely to find them (conspicuous delivery)
  1. Document all the steps taken to trace and serve the defendants.
  2. Submit a memorandum of law or a detailed account of how the plaintiffs exhausted all means possible to find and serve the defendant. This will be used to determine if service through traditional methods is impracticable.
  3. Make an ex parte motion and ask permission from the court to execute the process of service via email.
  4. Wait for the court’s decision to grant the motion.

If the motion is granted, the plaintiff must:

  • Email the legal papers on two consecutive dates.
  • The subject line must bear the header, “LEGAL PAPERS OPEN ATTACHMENT IMMEDIATELY.”
  • Send hard copies of the summons or complaint and the approved ex parte motion to the defendant via regular mail.

File a Motion for E-Service with Serve Index LLC

If your motion for electronic service gets approved, your immediate next concern is to carry out the process of service without committing blunders. One mistake could render the service invalid, and then you’ll have no choice but to start the process all over again.

Serve Index LLC’s process servers in New York know how to execute an electronic process of service. You can count on our knowledge and commitment to perform flawlessly on your behalf.

Save time and money by correctly serving legal documents once your application is granted. Contact Serve Index LLC today.

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