You have two Friend Requests. You checked-in at the Uptown 24-Hour Fitness. You were tagged in the album “CrAzY TiMeS!! :P.” And you have one pending lawsuit.
A Texas Legislator wants to add cyberspace to the list of places people are unable to dodge process servers. Introduced into the Texas House of Representatives by Representative Jeff Leach last week, HB 1989 would allow Court-authorized substitute service by messaging through a verified social media account.
As the Bill stands now, the Plaintiff would be required to show adequate evidence to the Court that (1) the defendant maintains a social media page; (2) the profile in question is the profile of the defendant; (3) the defendant regularly accesses the social media page; and (4) the defendant could reasonably be expected to receive actual notice through the social media account.
Service through social media is not without precedent. Courts in the United Kingdom and Canada have allowed service through social media–though the practice is not yet widespread. The Texas Bill may face resistance and legal challenges. The nature of social media raises significant Due Process concerns, and there is no clear guidance in the Bill on a validity standard for Courts to follow.
What do you think about substituted service through social media websites? Should there be different rules for different websites? Can you write a 140-character Petition? Leave a comment below.
Mike H. Bassett is a Senior Partner at The Bassett Firm. Mr. Bassett’s practice focuses on Insurance Defense, Transportation Litigation, Products liability, Premises Liability, and Employment Litigation. He received his B.B.A from the University of Texas El Paso in 1984 and his J.D. with distinction from St. Mary’s School of Law in 1987. Mr. Bassett was voted a Texas Super Lawyer in 2006.
R.G. Bradshaw Hawkins is a Law Clerk at The Bassett Firm. Mr. Hawkins received his undergraduate degree with honours from University of St. Andrews, Scotland, and is in his second year at Southern Methodist University Dedman School of Law in Dallas, Texas.