Last month, in Only serve what is REQUIRED, I suggested insisted that service costs can go through the roof if plaintiff’s counsel seeks to serve documents that aren’t strictly mandated by local rule.*
Routine practice dictates that, along with the Summons and Complaint, additional documents must be served as well. ECF Rules, civil cover sheet, the particular judge’s individual rules of practice, etc… those ancillary docs that have nothing specifically to do with the case at bar, but which are served as a matter of course, usually to deflect any hint of a 12(b)(4) motion. Unfortunately, those documents can sometimes double or even triple the cost to translate everything going to Germany or Japan or Mexico. Thousands of dollars spent on “well, we’ve always done it that way.”
My response: no. Just… no. If it’s not required, leave it out.
But the flip side is also true:
MAKE SURE YOU SERVE EVERYTHING THAT LOCAL RULES REQUIRE.
Just before Thanksgiving, a client emailed me to say “hey, Aaron, could you add the court’s ADR Information packet to the service? We think we should have included it.”
Urgh. This came a mere two hours after I’d sent the process server an affidavit to execute; service had already been completed.
Well, is it required? I asked.
“Yep. Local Rule TK421 mandates it.”
Well, that’s a silly rule, I thought. Then again, it would be even sillier to just ignore it and hope the defense counsel didn’t notice.
As it turned out, our (successful) quest for speed ended up costing my client a second round of fees because the service packet was incomplete. Mercifully, the defendant was in Australia, where costs aren’t excessive, so it didn’t cost the attorneys a whole lot more to have the process server tee it up again with a fresh set of docs. But if we’d had to serve in India or Mexico or any number of other places, the bill would have run up considerably more.
The takeaway: get everything assembled before we serve. Late additions are costly.
* Worth noting, Fed. R. Civ. P. 4(c)(1) requires service of the Summons and the Complaint (which naturally includes exhibits), and that’s it– an exhaustive list. The same pairing is required by many state rulebooks.