Case of the Day: Merial v. Ceva Santé Animale

The case of the day is Merial v. Ceva Santé Animale, S.A. (M.D. Ga. 2016). Merial sued Ceva, a French firm. It attempted to serve process by hiring a private process server to serve Herve Balmes, alleged to be a member of Ceva’s executive committee, in Libourne, France, and by registered mail to Marc Prikazsky, the CEO, again in Libourne. Ceva moved to dismiss for insufficient service of process.

The judge correctly rejected the attempt to serve Balmes by private process server. Under Article 10(c) of the Convention, service must be made “through the judicial officers, officials or other competent persons of the State of destination.” In France, that means a huissier. I am surprised that Merial was able to hire a private process server in France who was not a huissier and who purported to be able to effect service.

But the judge got the question of service by mail wrong, or at least, the judge reasoned wrong. France has not objected to service by postal channels. Unfortunately, however, the judge applied the incorrect minority view and held that Article 10(a) of the Convention never authorized service of process by mail. The outcome may nevertheless be correct, as it does not appear that the documents were mailed by the clerk, as FRCP 4(f)(2)(C)(ii) requires.

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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