United States District Court, N.D. California, San Francisco Division
ORDER DIRECTING SERVICE ON DEFENDANT
Re: ECF No. 65
Beeler United States Magistrate Judge.
Luis Hurtado Lucero claims that the defendants defrauded him
by inducing him to place his retirement savings in an
investment program that turned out to be an illegal Ponzi
scheme. One defendant is William Benson Peavey,
Jr., who allegedly told Mr. Lucero that he was an attorney
knowledgeable about tax-free retirement planning and
convinced Mr. Lucero to invest in this program.
Lucero made repeated attempts to serve a summons and
complaint on Mr. Peavey. His efforts included hiring a process
server and a private investigator to locate Mr. Peavey,
trying to serve him at five separate addresses, contacting
him by mail, calling him, and emailing him at the email
address that Mr. Peavey used to conduct all transactions
related to Mr. Lucero's investment. Mr. Lucero seeks
to serve the summons and complaint on Mr. Peavey by
court can decide Mr. Lucero's application without oral
argument. N.D. Cal. Civ. L.R. 7-1(b). The court authorizes
Mr. Lucero to serve the summons, the complaint, and this
order on Mr. Peavey by email. The court also directs Mr.
Lucero to (1) publish the summons in the San Francisco
Chronicle and (2) mail a copy of the summons, the complaint,
and this order to Mr. Peavey's P.O. box and the addresses
that Mr. Lucero found that were linked to Mr. Peavey,
excluding the empty lot in San Bruno.
Lucero determined that the last known address for Mr. Peavey
was a P.O. box address in South San Francisco. He mailed Mr.
Peavey at that address on October 1, 2018, but Mr. Peavey did
Lucero then obtained the following five additional addresses
for Mr. Peavey: (1) an address where Mr. Lucero last
interacted with Mr. Peavey; (2) an address identified in
public records (an empty lot in San Bruno); (3) two addresses
resulting from skip-trace searches of Mr. Peavey and his
wife, performed by One Legal, a process server; and (4) the
physical address linked to Mr. Peavey's P.O. box,
obtained by a private investigator from a
postmaster. Mr. Lucero hired a process server to serve
Mr. Peavey at those addresses. The process server made multiple
attempts but was unable to serve Mr. Peavey. Mr.
Peavey's son resided at one location but said that he had
no contact with his father and did not know where he
Lucero filed an ex parte application to serve Mr. Peavey by
publication in the San Francisco Chronicle. The court
asked Mr. Lucero whether he had any other contact information
for Mr. Peavey. Mr. Lucero responded with a phone number
and an email address that he used to use to communicate with
Mr. Peavey. The court denied without prejudice Mr.
Lucero's application to serve Mr. Peavey by publication
and suggested that Mr. Lucero had not demonstrated
sufficiently that he could not serve Mr. Peavey in another
manner, such as by email.
Lucero then submitted a declaration containing more
information about his efforts to serve Mr.
Peavey. Mr. Lucero's counsel attempted to
call Mr. Peavey at his last known phone number multiple times
to discuss service and left voicemail messages. Mr. Peavey
did not return the calls. Mr. Lucero's counsel also
sent an email to email@example.com, the email address Mr.
Peavey used to conduct all transactions related to Mr.
Lucero's investment. Mr. Peavey did not respond, but Mr.
Lucero's counsel's email did not “bounce-back,
” indicating that the email address is still
Lucero now moves for an order authorizing him to serve the
summons and complaint on Mr. Peavey by email.
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 4(e), a plaintiff may serve
an individual in the United States using any method permitted
by the law of the state in which the district court is
located or in which service is affected. Fed.R.Civ.P.
4(e)(1). 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 ...