Peggy and I just took a time warp to 1882. No, really. We are on board the schooner Grace Bailey for a bit of a break from Kansas City’s brutal July weather. All week, we’ll be sailing, sailing, over the bounding main (whatever that is), but not accessible to handle client needs. If you email me this week, fuggedaboutit. You’ll get my out-of-office response for the first time in well over two years. Our floating home is propelled by wind, off the coast of Maine, lacking internet access and a cell signal and… electricity.
A few weeks ago, I was chatting with my favorite new client, letting her know that I’d be out of pocket all this week. “When I say ‘out of pocket,’ I mean I will be on this thing…”
The thought occurred to me that, fairly regularly, I will field a frantic phone call or desperately drafted email from a lawyer or paralegal facing an imminent service deadline. Two years ago, I posted “There is no such thing as a service of process emergency” to illustrate (1) the glacial pace at which service abroad can sometimes move, and (2) the widespread safe harbor afforded by court rules.
At the federal level, Rule 4(m), along with the case law construing it in transnational cases, invokes a reasonable diligence standard, and gives ample time to litigators who need to serve offshore defendants. Just about all state rules (sorry, Wisconsin & Michigan) offer some sort of extension or similar reasonable diligence standard– if not automatically, then by fairly pro forma motion.
The point is…
Really– relax. Perhaps call Margaret and the good folks at Maine Windjammer Cruises and see what they can put together for you.
As long as you’re not at Day 80 with a 350-page patent infringement claim to translate and serve in China* or some such scenario, you’re going to be okay. I promise. I also promise I’ll get in touch with you as soon as I dig out of the thousand emails (not an exaggeration) I expect to have waiting for me when we reach safe harbor at the weekend.**
* In which case, I probably can’t help you anyway, unless you’ve been trying to secure a waiver from the defense. In any event, a few days is unlikely to upset the apple cart.
** See what I did there? Safe harbor! Yeah, yeah– Peggy’s always saying “if you have to explain it, it’s not funny“