21 Fla. L. Weekly Supp. 877b
Online Reference: FLWSUPP 2109DEBE
served with process, process server was not required to inform defendant of
contents of document — Failure to include descriptive narrative of method of
execution that is required by administrative order of court, but is not required
by statute, does not render return of service irregular on its face or
invalidate service of process
SCOTT GORDON REALTY ASSOCIATES, INC., Appellee(s). Circuit Court, 15th Judicial
Circuit (Appellate) in and for Palm Beach, Civil Division. Case No.
502013AP000032. L.T. Case No. 502013CC002184, Division AY. May 14, 2014. Appeal
from the County Court in and for Palm Beach County, Judge Debra Moses Stephens.
Counsel: Richard R. Widell, Boca Raton, for Petitioners. Jason D. Evans, Palm
Beach, for Respondent.
Petition for Certiorari; however we write specifically to clarify 1) that
Florida Statutes section 48.031 does not require an individual who is personally
served to be informed of the contents of the documents served, and 2) that
noncompliance with Administrative Order 2.702-9/08 does not invalidate service
of process. Florida Statutes section 48.031 states:
Service of original process is made by delivering a copy of it to
the person to be served with a copy of the complaint, petition, or other initial
pleading or paper or by leaving the copies at his or her usual place of abode
with any person residing therein who is 15 years of age or older and informing
the person of their contents. Minors who are or have been married shall be
served as provided in this section.
same sentence is ambiguous and is subject to the cannons of construction.
Deason v. Florida Dep’t of Corr., 705 So. 2d 1374 (Fla. 1998) [23 Fla. L.
disjunctive “or” in the same sentence which makes the statute ambiguous and
subject to the cannons of construction. See Deason v. Florida Dept. of Corr.,
705 So. 2d 1374 (Fla. 1998) [23 Fla. L. Weekly S35a]. The last antecedent
doctrine, a cannon of construction, states that “relative and qualifying words,
phrases, and clauses are to be applied to the words or phrase immediately
preceding, and are not to be construed as extending to or including others
more remote.” McKenzie Tank Lines, Inc. v. McCauley, 418 So. 2d 1177,
1180 (Fla. 1st DCA 1982) (emphasis in original, internal citations omitted).
Additionally, terms connected by a disjunctive such as “or” are generally given
a separate meaning unless the context of the sentence dictates otherwise.
Reiter v. Sonotone Corp., 442 U.S. 330, 339 (1979). Therefore, the clause
“and informing the person of the contents” only qualifies the phrase that
immediately precedes it: “by leaving the copies at his or her usual place of
abode with any person residing therein who is 15 years of age or older.”
Consequently, when service of process is personally served on the individual,
the process server is not required to inform the individual of the
contents. See Bank of America v. Nirk, 19 Fla. L. Weekly Supp. 468b (Fla.
17th Cir. Ct. October 19, 2011) (holding that when personal service is made on a
party the process server is not required to inform the party of the contents of
the documents). Thus, the trial court did not depart from the essential
requirements of law in denying the Motion to Quash because the process server
was not required to inform the Petitioner of the contents of the documents as
she was personally served.
served because the return-of-service was not regular on its face as it failed to
include a descriptive narrative of the method of execution as required by
Administrative Order 2.702-9/08. A return of service must include “the date and
time when it comes to [the] hand [of the process server], the date and time when
it is served, the manner of service, the name of the person on whom it was
served and, if the person is served in a representative capacity, the position
occupied by the person. The return-of-service form must be signed by the person
who effects the service of process. . . .” § 48.21, Fla. Stat. (2013);
Robles-Martinez v. Diaz, Reus & Targ, LLP, 88 So. 3d 177, 181 (Fla.
3d DCA 2011) [36 Fla. L. Weekly D1834a] (recognizing that the return-of-service
was regular on its face because it contained all the information required by
statute). The Administrative Order 2.702-9/08 of this Court also requires the
returns-of-service to include a descriptive narrative of the method of
execution. However, because a descriptive narrative is not statutorily required,
failure to include such description does not make returns-of-service irregular
on their faces or invalidate service of process. Thus, the trial court did not
depart from the essential requirements of law in denying the Motion to Quash
because returns-of-service are regular on their faces when they comply with the
statutory requirements of Florida Statutes section 48.21.
BROWN, JJ., concur.)
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