Case of the Day: In re Estate of Sucich

Paul Revere
Happy Patriot’s Day! Letters Blogatory wishes all of the runners in today’s marathon good luck.

The case of the day is In re Estate of Sucich (N.Y. Surr. Ct. 2015). Diana Sucich named her nephew, Nicholas Sucich, in her will, and he was therefore entitled to receive service of a citation in the probate case. However, according to the application of the nominated executor, Wolfson, Nicholas was “alleged to be a fugitive from justice and is believed to have resided in Mexico, under an assumed alias [“Nicolas Francisco”], for the past twenty years.” His sister, another named distributee under the will, had email addresses for him that appeared to work. Wolfson sought leave to serve the citation on Nicholas by email.

The court granted the motion. The judge correctly held that the Hague Service Convention did not forbid service by email in this circumstance. His language, though, has the potential to mislead. The Convention doesn’t forbid service by email in this case because the defendant’s address was unknown, and under Article 1, in such circumstances the Convention simply doesn’t apply. The judge wrote that “service by email … is not prohibited under either state or fedreal law, or the Hague Convention, given appropriate circumstances.” True enough, but as long-time readers know, when the Convention does apply, it does not permit service by email, particularly in a state such as Mexico that has objected to service under Article 10.

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 2012), 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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