Facebook Could Not Serve Complaint on Flo Rida
While Facebook offers many new ways to communicate, it has its limitations. For instance, it cannot be used to serve legal papers.
After rap superstar Flo Rida failed to appear for a performance at the 2011 Fat As Butter music festival in Newcastle, Australia, concert promoter, Mothership Music, filed suit for breach of contract. Difficulty serving the complaint on Flo Rida and his management team prompted Mothership Music to ask the court if it could serve the papers via social media, the ABA Journal reports.
While an Australian district court judge initially approved service via Facebook, lawyers for Flo Rida appealed the ruling, arguing that he had not been properly served. The appellate judge agreed.
“The evidence did not establish, other than by mere assertion, that the Facebook page was in fact that of Flo Rida,” Justice Robert McFarlan wrote, “and did not prove that a posting on it was likely to come to his attention in a timely fashion.”
While courts in the United States have adopted technology in many aspects of the court process, electronic service is still extremely rare. Under the Federal Rules of Procedure, defendants must generally be personally served with a summons and complaint. When traditional forms of service fail, others alternatives are available, such as sending documents via certified mail and newspaper publication.
Facebook, however, remains out of the range of available options. In 2012, a New York district judge denied a request by Chase Bank U.S.A. to serve a third-party defendant via social media. The judge concluded that serving documents via Facebook was too “unorthodox” and raised concerns over whether Chase could ensure that the defendant would receive and read the notice.