The case of the day is Ackelson v. Manley Toys Ltd. (Iowa Ct. App. 2015). The plaintiffs, Tammie Ackelson, Robin Drake, and Heather Miller, sued their employers, Manley Toy Direct LLC, Toy Network LLC, alleging violations of the Iowa Civil Rights Act. They later amended the complaint to add Manley Toys Ltd., and Toy Quest, Ltd., two related entities, both Hong Kong companies without agents for service of process in the United States.
The employees sought to make service on the Hong Kong companies by way of the Hong Kong central authority under the Hague Service Convention. The bailiff’s affidavit stated that the address where he served the documents “was operating (sic) by two companies named Manley Toys Limited and Toy Quest Limited, of which a female staff member, Ms. Lo Ming informed me that the aforesaid address was the registered office of the said party for service.” Looks good! But the two Hong companies moved to quash the service on the grounds that they had no employe or agent named Lo Ming (as far as the decision reveals, they did not claim that service had been made at the wrong address). The trial judge granted the motion, citing a similar decision from the US District Court for the Southern District of Iowa in another case involving the same defendants (but not, apparently, involving the same plaintiffs). I believe that the federal decision at issue was this decision in Rennenger v. Manley Toy Direct LLC (S.D. Iowa 2013), which also featured the mysterious Lo Ming. The employees then sought to make service on the Hong Kong companies’ US counsel under Iowa Rule of Civil Procedure 1.305(14). The trial judge agreed, and the Hong Kong companies took an interlocutory appeal.
Continue reading Case of the Day: Ackelson v. Manley Toys