Can a minor accept a document from a process server?
October 18, 2006 10:55 PM   Subscribe

Is it legally binding in the state of Washington for a minor to accept a document delivered by a process server?

Early this month a process server attempted to serve me with some papers. I wasn't home and but my 16 year old son was. My son informed the server that he was a minor, but the server convinced him to sign some sort of form indicating that the papers had been delivered.

Is this legal?

If not, could I successfully claim that I had never been properly served?
posted by jeffbarr to Law & Government (4 answers total)
One can serve a document by "leaving it at the persons dwelling house or usual place of abode with some person of suitable age and discretion then residing therein." cite for WA

An older teenager is considered "of suitable age," as long as he "does not have a mental impairment that would prevent him/her from understanding that the legal papers should be given to the other party." Delivering to your 16-yr-old son that lives with you is proper service.

Best of luck to you and your lawyer.
posted by neda at 11:57 PM on October 18, 2006

it probably depends on what sort of papers they are, but this comes from the Washington state rules of civil procedure:

(c) Service. A subpoena may be served by any suitable person over 18 years of age, by exhibiting and reading it to the witness, or by giving him a copy thereof, or by leaving such copy at the place of his abode. When service is made by any other person than an officer authorized to serve process, proof of service shall be made by affidavit.

this comes from the section on subpoenae, but i imagine (?) a similar provision applies to other documents. you'll have to do some reading. this is just my uninformed opinion and IANAL. you should ask yours.
posted by sergeant sandwich at 12:01 AM on October 19, 2006

According to RCW 4.28.080 (16) a summons may be served in Washington "By leaving a copy at his or her usual mailing address with a person of suitable age and discretion who is a resident, proprietor, or agent thereof, and by thereafter mailing a copy by first class mail, postage prepaid, to the person to be served at his or her usual mailing address." The phrase "suitable age and discretion" is not defined by the statute, so you have to refer to judicial precedent to get an idea of who qualifies. A google search turned up this decision from Washington in which a 16-year-old son was found to be of suitable age. The precedent referenced was the judicial decision in Miebach v. Colasurdo, 35 Wn App 803, 805, 808, 670 P 2d 276 (1983) in which it was held that a 15-year-old daughter was of suitable age to accept service.
posted by RichardP at 12:26 AM on October 19, 2006

I was a little careless, I really should have referenced RCW 4.28.080 (15), i.e. "by leaving a copy of the summons at the house of his or her usual abode with some person of suitable age and discretion then resident therein."
posted by RichardP at 12:32 AM on October 19, 2006

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