The case of the day is Morningstar v. Dejum (C.D. Cal. 2013). Morningstar is yet another case involving, according to the complaint, a “reverse takeover” maneuver in which a Chinese company enters the US market by merging into a publicly traded US shell corporation. The plaintiffs sought to serve Qiu Jianping and Zou Dejun, Chinese nationals and officers of Rino International Corp., the US company involved in the transaction, by alternative means under FRCP 4(f)(3). In particular, after trying and failing to effect service under the Hague Service Convention, they sought to serve the two by service on Rino at its California office, service on Rino’s registered agent for service of process in California, and service on their US lawyer, in each case with instructions to forward the documents to the foreign defendants.
We have covered many similar cases, and with the exception of cases that impose some sort of requirement of first resort to the Convention, they generally come out the same. Under the Volkswagen principle, such service is permissible as long as it is reasonably likely to give the defendants actual notice of the suit. That’s not to say that a judgment based on such service will be readily enforceable in China, though!
Photo credit: The Athenaeum