There is an interesting ruling out of Manhattan where Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Matthew Cooper has allowed nurse Ellanora Baidoo to serve her elusive husband, Victor Sena Blood-Dzraku (left), with divorce papers via a Facebook message due to her husband’s lack of a current address. Cooper noted in his opinion: “The past decade has also seen the advent and ascendency of social media, with websites such as Facebook and Twitter occupying a central place in the lives of so many
people. Thus, it would appear that the next frontier in the developing law of the service of process over the internet is the use of social media sites as forums through which a summons can be delivered.”
Cooper runs through the various options in cases where service is not possible:
“DRL § 232 permits plaintiffs to request permission to utilize one of the alternative methods allowed under the Civil Practice Law and Rules (CPLR) that does not require “in-hand” delivery to the defendant. One such method, often referred to as “substitute service,” involves delivering the summons to a person of “suitable age and discretion” at the defendant’s “actual place of business, dwelling or usual place of abode” (CPLR 308 ). Another method, known as “nail and mail” service, requires affixing the summons to the door of a defendant’s “actual place of business, dwelling or usual place of abode” (CPLR 308), and then, as with “substitute service,” mailing a copy to the defendant’s “last known address” or “actual place of business.” A third method is “publication service,” where the summons is printed in a newspaper designated by the court and which can be granted upon a showing that “service cannot be made by another prescribed method with due diligence” (CPLR 315).”
The court notes that “although the parties married in 2009, they never resided together, and the last address plaintiff has for defendant is an apartment that he vacated in 2011.” It also noted that her husband has refused to make himself available to be served with divorce papers and private investigators failed to locate him. The Department of Motor Vehicles has no record of him. Accordingly, the court ruled:
Specifically, because litigants are prohibited from serving other litigants, plaintiff’s attorney shall log into plaintiff’s Facebook account and message the defendant by first identifying himself, and then including either a web address of the summons or attaching an image of the summons. This transmittal shall be repeated by plaintiff’s attorney to defendant once a week for three consecutive weeks or until acknowledged by the defendant. Additionally, after the initial transmittal, plaintiff and her attorney are to call and text message defendant to inform him that the summons for divorce has been sent to him via Facebook.