Case of the Day: Barnett v. Miguel

The case of the day, Barnett v. Miguel (D. Idaho 2011), is another example of the trouble US plaintiffs can have in attempting service of process in Mexico. The plaintiffs, Jerry Ray and Barnett and Richard Getty, sued three Mexican defendants, Alfredo Miguel, Pepe Miguel, and Alfredo Miguel Jr., alleging racketeering under Idaho law. The magistrate judge authorized Barnett and Getty to serve the Miguels in Mexico by mail, and the defendants objected. The judge agreed that service by mail in Mexico is impermissible under the Convention, as discussed in the post on Mitchell v. Volkswagen. The plaintiffs also transmitted the papers to the Mexican central authority, but because the central authority had notified the plaintiffs of deficiencies in their request under the Hague Convention, the judge concluded that Article 15 (which permits the court to proceed to a default judgment if the central authority has not responded to the request for service within six months) was irrelevant.

The defendants had appeared in the case, first to remove it from the Idaho state court to the federal court, and second, to oppose the magistrate judge’s decision on service by mail. So the obvious answer for the plaintiffs is to seek approval for alternative service on the defendants’ US lawyer.

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