Service of Process Through Social Media

Service of process is the procedure by which one party to a lawsuit gives notice of the commencement of a legal action to the party being sued so the court can exercise jurisdiction over that party. New Jersey Court Rule 4:4-4 and Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 4(c) set forth the various ways process may be served on a defendant. Traditional manners of service include personal service by a process server, mail service, substituted service or service by publication.

Service Process_TLB

Recently, courts have permitted litigants to serve process via email, so it is not surprising that litigants are now also seeking to use a defendant’s social media account to serve process after traditional means prove ineffective or impossible. Indeed, one New York court noted “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.”  Baidoo v. Blood-Dzraku, 5 N.Y.S.3d 709, 711 (N.Y. Sup. Ct. 2015).  A New Jersey trial court recently took up the service-by-social media gauntlet and did, in fact, allow a defendant to be served with process via his Facebook account.

Continue reading

When Your Social Media Presence Can be Used Against You in a Foreign State as a Basis for Personal Jurisdiction

Merriam-Webster defines “social media” as “forms of electronic communication (such as websites for social networking and microblogging) through which users create online communities to share information, ideas, personal messages, and other content (such as videos).”  Individuals and businesses are increasingly turning to social networking sites — i.e., Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Snapchat and YouTube (among others) — to interact with clients and customers.

Jurisdiction

As a result of the proliferation of people and companies making use of social media accounts, more and more courts throughout the United States are being asked to consider when a party’s social media presence can provide a sufficient basis for establishing personal jurisdiction over a party.  Federal courts sitting in New Jersey and elsewhere have recently considered this very issue.  Individuals and businesses using social media would be well-served to understand the holding of this case, which sets forth when a New Jersey Court will exercise jurisdiction over a party because of how it uses social media.

Continue reading