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.

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