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.

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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