Case of the Day: Russo v. Alonso

The case of the day is Russo v. Alonso (Ariz. Ct. App. 2012). Timothy and Annette Russo were involved in a traffic accident in Phoenix. They noted the license plate number on the other vehicle, and the police officer who came to the scene identified the other vehicle as belonging to Jose Arsenio Ramirez Alonso, who, according to the registry’s records, resided at an address in Phoenix.

The Russos’ lawyer corresponded by mail with Alonso at the Phoenix address, and Alonso responded. Some of the documents he sent to the lawyer indicated that he had another address in Phoenix. When the Russos finally sued Alonso, the process server was unable to make service—Alonso’s brother told him that Alonso had “moved to Mexico.” The Russos then effected service by publication.

Alonso then appeared and moved to dismiss for insufficient service of process. The trial court dismissed the case without prejudice on the grounds that the Russos were required to make service through the Mexican Central Authority, and the Russos appealed.

On appeal, the court reversed. It correctly noted that because Alonso’s address was unknown, the Hague Service Convention did not apply. Easy case. Nor does it seem that there are any due process issues here—Alonso evidently became aware of the action in plenty of time to defend.

About Ted Folkman

Ted Folkman is a shareholder with Murphy & King, a Boston law firm, where he has a complex business litigation practice. He is the author of International Judicial Assistance (MCLE 2d ed. 2016), a nuts-and-bolts guide to international judicial assistance issues, and of the chapter on service of process in the ABA's forthcoming treatise on International Aspects of US Litigation, and he is the publisher of Letters Blogatory, the Web's first blog devoted to international judicial assistance, which the ABA recognized as one of the best 100 legal blogs in 2012, 2014, and 2015.

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