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Leisa Smith v. Sandhu Daljit Singh

March 30, 2011

LEISA SMITH, PLAINTIFF
v.
SANDHU DALJIT SINGH, 3620981 CANADA, INC. DEFENDANTS



The opinion of the court was delivered by: William W. Caldwell United States District Judge

MEMORANDUM

I. Introduction

Plaintiff, Leisa Smith, filed this action to recover for personal injuries suffered in a vehicle accident at a truck stop in Lebanon County, Pennsylvania. Defendants, Sandhu Daljit Singh and 3620981 Canada Inc., have filed a motion under Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(5) to vacate Plaintiff's service of process. Defendants are located in Quebec, Canada, and service was made by international registered mail. Defendants argue that this form of service violated the Hague Convention on the Service Abroad of Judicial and Extra-judicial Documents (the Hague Convention), which required Plaintiff to first send her complaint to the Central Authority for Quebec for service by a sheriff (or huissier), or use a sheriff in the first instance to serve the complaint.

We agree with Plaintiff that registered mail was a proper form of service and will deny the motion.

II. Background

On November 8, 2010, Plaintiff filed suit in the Court of Common Pleas of Lebanon County, Pennsylvania. She alleges she is a resident of Washington State, (Compl. ¶ 1), and that defendant, Sandhu Daljit Singh, is a resident of Dollard Des Ormeaux, Quebec, Canada. (Id. ¶ 2). She alleges that the other defendant, 3620981 Canada Inc., is a business corporation providing transportation services and has a registered office address in the care of Shangara Singh Sidhu, also in Dollard Des Ormeaux, Quebec. (Id. ¶ 3). Ths street address in Dollard Des Ormeaux for the individual defendant and for the corporate defendant is the same. (Id. ¶¶ 2 and 3).

Plaintiff avers that on December 21, 2008, she was injured by the negligence of Sandhu Daljit Singh when he drove his tractor-trailer into her tractor-trailer at a truck stop in Lebanon County. (Id. ¶¶ 4-7, 9). She has sued the individual defendant and the corporate defendant, alleging that the latter is liable under respondeat superior because the defendant operator was acting in the course and scope of his employment with 3620981 Canada Inc. at the time of the accident. (Id. ¶ 18).

To effect service, Plaintiff used international registered mail. In her opposition to the motion to vacate, Plaintiff attaches copies of the return receipts. They indicate that on November 10, 2010, separate mailings were made for each defendant at the Dollard Des Ormeaux address, one addressed to Sandhu Daljit Singh and the other to 3620981 Canada Inc. "c/o of Shangara Singh Sadhu." (Doc. 6-1, Pl.'s Opp'n, Ex. A, CM/ECF p. 2).*fn1 The person who signed for the complaints on November 23, 2010, used only initials. However, those are the initials of Sandhu Daljit Singh since Defendants admit in their motion to vacate that the individual defendant "was sent via registered mail on November 10, 2010 a copy of plaintiff's complaint," (doc. 4. Mot. to Vacate ¶ 3), and attach to their motion an identical copy of the return receipt Plaintiff has supplied.*fn2

On February 17, 2011, Defendants filed their notice of removal, asserting our diversity jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a)(2).

III. Discussion

Defendants move to vacate service of process, arguing that service by registered mail violated the Hague Convention. According to Defendants, the Hague Convention required Plaintiff to first send her complaint to the Central Authority for Quebec for service by a sheriff (or huissier), or use a sheriff in the first instance to serve the complaint.

Both the United States and Canada are signatories to the Hague Convention. Mitchell v. Theriault, 516 F. Supp. 2d 450, 452 (M.D. Pa. 2007). The Convention requires that contracting states establish a central authority "to receive requests for service coming from other contracting States." Id. The central authority then arranges for service of the documents. Id. "Service of process abroad is controlled by the Hague Convention, to the extent that the convention applies." Id. (citing Volkswagenwerk Aktiengesellschaft v. Schlunk, 486 U.S. 694, 705, 108 S.Ct. 2104, 2111, 100 L.Ed.2d 722 (1988)).

However, as Plaintiff points out, the Convention does not require a party to use a central authority if a contracting state does not object to service by ...


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