We’ve noticed an uptick recently in product liability claims and patent infringement suits against foreign automakers– in particular the German luxury car manufacturer Mercedes-Benz and its U.S. subsidiary. The question that arises daily around here, and the question that drives everything we do, is this: how do we get these guys served?
Fortunately, it’s not a difficult undertaking with a German defendant, especially one as well known as the folks represented by that fancy, three-pointed star. If you’re going after Mercedes-Benz Group AG, you’ve essentially got three ways to have service effected:
- Tap us on the shoulder for bespoke attention—and probably some amusing commentary to boot (see the upper right if you’re on a desktop, or way down below if you’re on a phone/tablet),
- Cruise over to the Hague Envoy platform at USM94.com to automate the completion of your forms– and provide self-help instructions– in perhaps twenty minutes or so, or
- If you’re feeling froggy & would like to handle the whole thing yourself, see my earlier post How to Serve Process in Germany. It lays out the framework you’ll need.
A few things to note, though…
- It’s gonna take a while, usually three or four months, for most German authorities to return proof to you. To be sure, the authority that serves Benz is quicker than the rest, but note an important rule that is squarely on your side: you’ve got a friend in Rule 4(m).
- If you file in a split-recovery state, know that German authorities might reject a request to serve a case including punitive damages.
- You have to translate everything served into German. Yes, I know– if Mercedes isn’t competent in English, how do they sell so many cars in the UK and North America? That’s a valid question, but it’s irrelevant… the translation requirement isn’t focused on the defendant’s understanding.
- This above all: keep it short, counsel. You do not get paid by the word. Translators, however, do. The lengthier your pleadings, the more it’ll cost you to translate them.
That’s the nutshell view. Serving in Germany is almost always a straightforward undertaking, but questions are always welcome.