Case of the Day: Mumford v. Carnival Corp.

The case of the day is Mumfurd v. Carnival Corp. (S.D. Fla. 2014). Donna Mumford sued Vusumzi Mbuth Uma for negligence. After 120 days had passed, the court issued an order to show cause why the case should not be dismissed—under FRCP 4(m) the ordinary time for serving a summons and complaint is 120 days, unless the defendant is abroad. Mumford replied that Dr. Uma was abroad and that she was trying to determine Dr. Uma’s address. However, after 242 days had passed without any indication that Mumford had even attempted to make service, the judge decided, sua sponte, to dismiss the case without prejudice. FRCP 4(m) says, on its face, that the 120-day limit does not apply to cases involving service abroad. There are, however, various approaches in the precedents to determining how long is too long. The judge in Mumford adopted the Second Circuit’s approach, under which the exception to FRCP 4(m)’s ordinary limits does not apply if the plaintiff has not even attempted to make service within the 120 days.

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