United States District Court, N.D. California, San Jose Division
ORDER GRANTING MOTION TO SERVE VIA THE CALIFORNIA
SECRETARY OF STATE [Re: ECF 18]
LABSON FREEMAN United States District Judge.
Richard Gambord (“Gambord”) sued Defendants
Westside Gas, Inc. (“Westside Gas”) and Tornessa,
Inc. d/b/a as Classic Vapor Dry Cleaners, alleging violations
of the American Disabilities Act among other claims. First
Am. Compl., ECF 16. Before the Court is Gambord's motion
to serve Westside Gas via service on the California Secretary
of State because the agent for service of process cannot with
reasonable diligence be located. Mot., ECF 18. The motion is
unopposed. After reviewing the motion and the exhibits in
support thereof, the Court grants the application for reasons
filed an initial complaint and summons was issued as to
Westside Gas on January 19, 2017. Compl., ECF 1; Summons, ECF
5. Multiple attempts for service on Westside Gas by
Gambord's counsel and his staff ensued.
Joseph Peoples (“Peoples”) was identified to be
the agent for Westside Gas, and the complaint was sent to
County Process Services, Inc., a registered process server
(“County Process”) on January 24, 2017, to effect
service on Peoples. Best Decl. ¶ 2, ECF 18-1. Based on
the Secretary of State's website as of January 17, 2017,
the entity and address to effect service on Westside Gas are
“Christopher Joseph Peoples, at 645 Quail Run Road,
Aptos, California.” Id. ¶¶ 2, 4; Ex.
A to Best Decl.
effort of multiple professional process servers was
unsuccessful throughout the period of January 25, 2017 to
March 29, 2017. Best Decl. ¶ 4. County Process conducted
seventeen attempts, at various times and days to serve
Peoples. Id. No one answered the door or was
observed at the residence address. Id.
March 2, 2017, another inquiry was made with the California
Secretary of State's Office website on the agent for
service of process for Westside Gas. Id. ¶ 5.
It was discovered that on February 26, 2017, Peoples, the CFO
of Westside Gas, filed a Statement of Information which now
identifies the entity address as 15966 N. 80th Street in
Scottsdale, Arizona. Ex. B to Best Decl.
March 2, 2017, County Process was directed to effect service
on Peoples at this new address. Best Decl. ¶ 6. From
March 15, 2017 and March 30, 2017, County Process conducted
eleven attempts, at various dates and times, including a
three hour and twenty five minute stakeout. Id. No
one answered the door and the building was found locked.
Id.; Ex. C to Best Decl.
April 3, 2017, Gambord's counsel and his staff located
two additional addresses associated with Peoples, at 740
Rosecrans Street in San Diego, California, and 8229 N. 54th
Street in Paradise Valley, Arizona. Best Decl. ¶ 7. From
April 3, 2017 to April 9, 2017, One Legal Process Service
(“One Legal”), one of the process servers,
conducted seven attempts, at various times and days to serve
Peoples on behalf of Westside Gas at 740 Rosecrans Street in
San Diego, California. Id. Again, no one answered
the door even though on three separate dates, multiple
vehicles were parked in the driveway. Id.; Ex. D to
the address at 8229 N. 54th Street in Paradise Valley,
Arizona, One Legal conducted five attempts to serve Peoples
at that address from April 5, 2017 to April 17, 2017. Best
Decl. ¶ 8. No one answered the door and no one was seen
at the residence. Id.
March 21, 2017, Gambord's counsel and staff requested
County Process to obtain a change of address or boxholder
information from the United States Post Office for the
address of 645 Quail Run Road, Aptos, California. Best Decl.
¶ 10. The post office report, dated April 10, 2017,
indicates a change of address with the new address to be 740
Rosecrans Street, San Diego, California 92106. Id.;
Ex. E to Best Decl.
April 18, 2017, One Legal was directed to effect service on
Peoples at 740 Rosecrans Street in San Diego, California,
again despite having attempted to effect service at that
location earlier that month unsuccessfully. Best Decl. ¶
11. One Legal was also instructed to conduct stakeouts at the
residence. Id. On May 19, 2017, a three hour
stakeout, from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. was conducted. Id.
Two vehicles were observed at the residence, no movement was
observed, and there was no answer at the door. Id.
From May 25, 2017 to May 30, 2017, four additional attempts
at various times were made. Id. On June 3, 2017, a
three hour stakeout, from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m. was conducted.
Id. Two vehicles were parked at the residence.
During the stakeout, a female was contacted at the residence,
identifying herself as the wife of the agent for service,
Peoples. Id. She stated that he was on a business
trip in Arizona, and that she was not affiliated with the
company. Id.; Ex. F to Best Decl.
Civ. Proc. 4(h)(1)(A) allows service of process to
corporations and other business entities in the same ways
permitted by Rule 4(e),  including all methods allowed by state
law. California law allows for five basic methods of service:
1) personal delivery to the party, see Cal. Civ.
Proc. Code § 415.10; 2) delivery to someone else at the
party's usual residence or place of business with mailing
after (known as “substitute service”), see
Id. § 415.20; 3) service by mail with
acknowledgment of receipt, see Id. § 415.30; 4)
service on persons ...