Case of the Day: Haffner International Marketing Group v. Sahin

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The case of the day is Haffner International Marketing Group, Inc. v. Sahin (D. Nev. 2013). Haffner was a Nevada corporation in the business of “porcelain, granite, and horse hoof repair.” Sahin lived in Turkey. Haffner hired Sahin in 2006, but in 2011 the relationship ended. Haffner claimed that Sahin then misappropriated its trade secrets. Haffner sued in Nevada and sought to effect service of process on Sahin in Turkey via the Turkish central authority. When the clerk erroneously ordered Haffner to show cause why the case should not be dismissed for failure to serve process within 120 days,1 Haffner moved for an extension of time and also sought leave to serve process via email.

The court, without much analysis, granted both motions. The motion for an extension of time is unproblematic, and the judge’s decision there was plainly correct. But because Turkey has objected to service via postal channels under Article 10(a), and in the absence of a showing that Turkey has a law on service by email in foreign cases so as to bring Article 19 into play, the Convention forbids service by email. The judge was considering the issue ex parte, so it is, perhaps, not surprising that he would get this wrong, but it’s a mistaken decision that should not be followed.

  1. I say “erroneous” because FRCP 4(m) expressly does not apply to cases of service abroad.

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