Case of the Day: Merial v. Ceva Santé Animale
Posted on February 4, 2016
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.