South-Western Legal Studies in Business

Without Proper Notice, Court Has No Jurisdiction over Party Not Notified

Maine high court held that when service by mail does not conform to state standards, there has been no service to notify the party of the action and the court does not have personal jurisdiction over the party not served.

Topic Court Procedure
Key Words

Service of Process; Mail; Personal Jurisdiction

C A S E   S U M M A R Y

Brown sued Thaler. Brown mailed him the summons and complaint by certified mail. Maine law states that service may be made: “By mailing a copy of the summons and of the complaint (by first-class mail, postage prepaid) to the person to be served, together with two copies of a notice and acknowledgment form and a return envelope, postage prepaid, addressed to the sender. If no acknowledgment of service … is received by the sender within 20 days after the date of mailing, service of the summons and complaint shall be made [by personal service].” Brown’s mailing did not include an acknowledgment and Thaler did not reply. Brown requested default judgment from the court, claiming that Thaler did not respond to service. Brown was granted judgment, but it was vacated when Thaler protested that he had not been served. The court dismissed the suit. Brown appealed.


Affirmed. Service by mail without an acknowledgment is not proper service. It means that the other party has not been provided adequate notice and means the trial court does not have personal jurisdiction over the defendant. Hence, the trial court ruling to dismiss the suit was appropriate.


Brown v. Thaler, ---A.2d--- (2005 WL 1459118, Sup. Ct., Maine, 2005)

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