The opinion of the court was delivered by: Magistrate Judge Cathy Bissoon
Pending before the Court is Plaintiffs‟ Motion for Alternate Service (Doc. 2) through which Plaintiffs seek an Order from this Court allowing them to serve Defendant USA Concrete Construction, Inc. by First-Class U.S. Mail. Given the nature of the Motion and the fact that Defendant has not been served, Defendant has not filed a response. For the reasons that follow, Plaintiffs‟ Motion for Alternate Service (Doc. 2) is denied without prejudice.
Plaintiffs filed their Complaint with this Court on October 22, 2008. Plaintiffs have attempted to serve the Summons and Complaint upon Defendant by certified mail at 145 Nulf Drive, Columbiana, Ohio 44408. (Pls‟ Mot. at ¶ 2.) According to Plaintiffs‟ Motion, the United States Postal Service ("USPS") made three attempts to deliver the Summons and Complaint to no avail. Id. at ¶ 3. The USPS, therefore, returned the Summons and Complaint to Plaintiffs as "unclaimed." Id. Plaintiffs allege that Defendant "refuses to pick up its certified mail at its post office in Columbiana, Ohio." Id. at ¶ 4. Plaintiffs now move, pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 4 and Pennsylvania Rule of Civil Procedure 430, for permission to serve Defendant by "postage prepaid, U.S. first class mail at 145 Nulf Drive, Columbiana, Ohio 44408." See id. at 2.
Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 4(h), a plaintiff may serve a corporation either (1) "in the manner prescribed by [Federal] Rule 4(e)(1) for serving an individual" or (2) "by delivering a copy of the summons and of the complaint to an officer, a managing or general agent, or any other agent authorized by appointment or by law to receive service of process . . . ." Fed. R. Civ. P. 4(h). Federal Rule 4(e)(1), referenced in the former method, directs a plaintiff to follow "state law for serving a summons . . . ." Fed. R. Civ. P. 4(e)(1).
Pennsylvania Rule of Civil Procedure 404, which governs service of a summons and complaint outside of Pennsylvania,*fn1 permits service in one of several ways, including, inter alia:
(1) "by a competent adult in the manner provided by Rule 402(a)" or (2) "by mail in the manner provided by Rule 403," e.g., return receipt mail. Pa. R. Civ. P. 404(1)-(2). Rule 402(a), in relevant part, provides that a plaintiff may serve the defendant personally or serve the defendant‟s agent or person in charge of the "office or usual place of business" of defendant. Pa. R. Civ. P. 402(a). If service is attempted through return receipt mail under Rules 404(2) and 403 and the mail is "returned with notation by the postal authorities that it was unclaimed, the plaintiff shall make service by another means pursuant to these rules." Pa. R. Civ. P. 403(2).
Rule 430, upon which Plaintiff‟s Motion is premised, provides:
If service cannot be made under the applicable rule the plaintiff may move the court for a special order directing the method of service. The motion shall be accompanied by an affidavit stating the nature and extent of the investigation which has been made to determine the whereabouts of the defendant and the reasons why service cannot be made.
Pa. R. Civ. P. 430(a). To obtain leave for alternate service, a plaintiff must show (1) "a good faith effort to locate the Defendant"; (2) that "practical efforts to serve Defendant" have been undertaken; and (3) that "the proposed alternate method of service is reasonably calculated to provide the defendant with notice of the proceedings against [it]." Clark v. Tennessee Shell Co., Inc., No. 07-1579, 2008 WL 1944124, at *1 (W.D. Pa. May 1, 2008) (McVerry, J.) (citing Calabro v. Leiner, 464 F. Supp. 2d 470 (E.D. Pa. 2006)). A request for alternate service is an extraordinary remedy and should be granted only if service cannot be made under any other applicable rule of civil procedure. See Flannigan v. Borough of Ambridge, No. 06-1350, 2007 WL 404010, at *1 (W.D. Pa. Feb. 1, 2007) (Caiazza, J.).
Here, Plaintiffs have failed to show that "service cannot be made" under any applicable rule. As such, the Court concludes that Plaintiffs‟ Motion is premature and should be denied without prejudice. According to their Motion, the only method of service that Plaintiffs have attempted thus far is service by certified mail, presumably under Federal Rules 4(h)(1)(A) and 4(e)(1). Plaintiffs have not yet attempted any other method of service provided for under Federal Rule 4(h), namely service upon an "officer, a managing or general agent, or any other agent authorized . . . to receive service of process . . . ." See Fed. R. Civ. P. 4(h)(1)(B).
Plaintiffs‟ cursory Motion raises more questions than it answers. It is unclear, for example, whether Plaintiffs have attempted to identify or verify Defendant‟s officers or agents upon whom the Summons and Complaint could be served. It is equally unclear whether Plaintiffs have even attempted to verify the accuracy of the Columbiana, Ohio address to which they mailed their Summons and Complaint. Indeed, that the certified mail was returned as "unclaimed" may suggest that the Columbiana, Ohio address is inaccurate. In this regard, the Court notes that Plaintiffs‟ assertions that Defendant has "obstructed service," "concealed [its] whereabouts," (Pls. Mot. at 2) or has "refuse[d] to pick up the certified mail at the post office in Columbiana, Ohio" (id. at ¶ 4) are wholly unsupported. In short, Plaintiffs have failed to demonstrate that they have exhausted all efforts to locate and serve Defendant.
The Court further notes that the mere fact that the United States Postal Service returned the Summons and Complaint to Plaintiffs as "unclaimed" is an insufficient reason to invoke the extraordinary remedy of an order for alternate service. Indeed, in circumstances where certified mail is returned as "unclaimed," Pennsylvania‟s procedural rules require Plaintiffs to attempt service by "another means." Pa. R. Civ. P. 403(2). Again, Plaintiffs have not yet attempted service by other means, namely service upon an officer, ...