FRCP Rule 4(f) governs the service of process to individuals in a foreign country, and most attorneys who have had to deal with this particular Rule know that the process can take years. Yes, years to serve process.
But good news! Courts around the country have been broadly interpreting Rule 4(f)(3) (“an individual…may be served at a place not within any judicial district of the United States: …(3) by other means not prohibited by international agreement, as the court orders.”) to help make service on hard-to-reach foreign individuals easier.
For example, in WhosHere, Inc. v. Orun, 2014 WL 670817 (E.D. Va. 2014), the court granted plaintiff’s motion to serve process on a Turkish defendant “through email and social networking websites pursuant to Rule 4(f)(3).”
How is this possible, you ask?
Well, the defendant in that case had previously contacted the plaintiff through two different email addresses and told the plaintiff where to find them on social media networks.
Because of those communications and the fact that Turkey complies with Article 10 of the Hague Convention, the court allowed service of process on the Turkish defendant through email, Facebook, and LinkedIn.
Keep in mind that this decision came after several previous failed attempts to serve process on the defendant by traditional means, so don’t count on social media being your first resort for overseas service just yet. You’ll need to try the traditional means first, and then show a link to why you should be able to utilize social media to pass muster with a US court.
The full case digest is available in the eDiscovery Assistant in the Case Law section. Just type the first name into the search box or you can filter to it by jurisdictions or tags.