Brooklyn Judge Denies Service of Process by Facebook

Service by FacebookAs we are constantly trying to determine what will be the parameters in using service of process via social media accounts, a new case in Brooklyn held that a woman attempting to serve her husband via Facebook could not be granted as the husband was not an active user of the platform.  According to the record, Manal Qaza and husband Abdulla Saeed Hazza Alshalabi were married in New York in 2011.  Her husband left New York without any contact information about two months afterwards.  Qaza stated that Alshalabi was deported and she was not aware of where his present location was.

She thereafter began an matrimonial action and filed a motion for an Order allowing her to serve her husband by publication via Facebook.  She stated that she had made numerous attempts to personally serve him at last known addresses and even attempted to contact family members to determine where his current whereabouts were.  She believed that Alshalabi was in Saudi Arabia as she alleges two Facebook profiles indicated that it was his current location.  She said that she was in contact with him through Facebook.  She argued that in Saudi Arabia she could not ensure service and the costs for publishing in a paper in Saudi Arabia would be out of her means.

Service by FacebookBrooklyn Supreme Court Justice Jeffrey Sunshine denied Qaza’s request stating that the plaintiff failed to authenticate that her husband’s Facebook profile was actually his and, assuming it was, that he actually uses the profile to communicate. He noted the profile hasn’t been updated since April 2014.  Also Qaza never gave proof that she communicated with Alshalabi on Facebook in the past.

Although courts are much more open to use this type of substituted service, this case shows that there must be some proof that the parties have engaged in communication using the method in the past.  The party requesting the service would have the burden of proof to show that this method would reasonably give notice to the party to be served that an action has commenced against them.  There were not any indications of that Alshalabi had used Facebook or engaged in communication with Qaza since she did not offer any proof to the contrary.  This area of process service in New York is evolving daily.  Cases are constantly appearing in New York City courts that will either limit or expand this type of substituted service.

Should you need any assistance with service in the NYC area then DJ&H Process Service can assist you.  We have over 20 years of experience serving legal documents in the 5 boroughs and surrounding regions.  You can contact us at 718-843-1184 if you need assistance with the process service of any of your legal papers.

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