Case of the Day: Turco v. Lovisoni

The case of the day is Turco v. Lovisoni (Cal. Super. Ct. 2023). The plaintiff served process on the defendant in Italy via a private process server, or as the defendant described him, a “random individual.” The defendant moved to quash the service.

The details of the discussion were not ideal. The defendant cited a couple of cases that, in turn, cited the guidance of the State Department, which indicated (correctly) that service under Articles 10(b) or (c) of the Convention could be effected only by a judicial officer. The plaintiff cited the HCCH status table, which indicated (again, of course, correctly) that Italy has no objection to the methods of service permitted by Articles 10(b) and (c). Then the court discussed who had or had not provided a sufficient basis to allow it to take judicial notice of the materials cited. It favored the defendant’s position, apparently because a few courts had relied on the State Department guidance. That’s the right approach, but the court seems to have reached it by accident.

A better approach to all this would be for the court to make a real decision about what the Italian legal position really is. The plaintiff did the right thing by citing the State Department’s guidance, but it would have been more helpful to the court, I think, to cite Italian authorities on who are “judicial officers, officials or other competent persons” who can serve process. The defendants evidently didn’t really understand Article 10, and it would have been better for the court to explain why the defendants’ approach was wrong instead of focusing on the lack of a sufficient to take judicial notice of the HCCH’s materials.

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