Case of the Day: Brown v. True & Associates

The case of the day, Brown v. True & Associates, Ltd. (S.D. Ga. 2012), is an unfortunate decision. Sage Brown purchased an “executive chair” at a Sam’s Club store in Savannah, Georgia. The chair collapsed while he sat on it, causing personal injury. Brown sued True & Associates, allegedly the chair’s manufacturer. He was proceeding pro se.

True is apparently a Taiwan business, and Brown requested issuance of a letter rogatory. This is an appropriate method of service in Taiwan, which is not a party to the Hague Service Convention. But the judge refused to issue the proposed letter, on what I think are dubious grounds. The judge noted that the letter was addressed to “the Appropriate Taiwanese Official” and complained that Brown was seeking to have the judge “do [Brown’s] legal spade work.” But it’s not just acceptable, but recommended by the State Department, to address a letter rogatory to the “appropriate official” in the foreign country. The judge also claimed that Brown was asking the court to transmit the letter rogatory directly to a Taiwanese court, but nothing in Brown’s motion (attached, improperly but not surprisingly given that Brown was acting pro se, to the complaint) suggests that Brown was seeking to do anything other than transmit the letter via the diplomatic channel, which is the usual method. Last, the judge noted that alternate methods of service were available, but it’s not clear why Brown should be required to choose another method rather than a letter rogatory.

I am going to chalk this up to the judge having a bad day.

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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