United States District Court, C.D. California
PRESENT: HON. JEAN P. ROSENBLUTH, MAGISTRATE JUDGE
ENTRY: Order to Show Cause re Service
12, 2019, Plaintiff filed a paid Complaint raising claims
under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the City of Los Angeles,
LAPD Chief Michel Moore, LAPD officers Guillermo Arias and
Paola Leal,  and a Doe Defendant. On August 7, 2019,
the Court ordered Plaintiff to serve the Complaint on the
named Defendants within the 90 days allotted by Federal Rule
of Civil Procedure 4(m) or risk having it dismissed. On
October 17, 2019, his time to effect proper service expired
with none of the named Defendants having been served. On
October 22, 2019, he filed a First Amended Complaint,
apparently suing the same Defendants. On October 25, 2019,
the Court found that the filing of the FAC did not reset Rule
4(m)'s service window and that he had failed to timely
serve any of the named Defendants or demonstrate good cause
for that failure. Nonetheless, the Court extended
Plaintiff's original 90-day window to serve the named
Defendants by 30 days, warning him that his failure to effect
timely and proper service could result in dismissal of the
action. The Court advised him of the availability of pro se
clinics in this district to assist him with his lawsuit.
November 6, 2019, Plaintiff filed proofs of service,
purporting to have served the city of Los Angeles and LAPD
officers Arias and Leal. As of the date of this order,
however, none of the named Defendants have appeared in this
federal court is without personal jurisdiction over a
defendant unless the defendant has been served in accordance
with [Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 4].”
Travelers Cas. & Sur. Co. of Am. v. Brenneke,
551 F.3d 1132, 1135 (9th Cir. 2009) (citation omitted).
Although Rule 4 is to be “‘liberally
construed' to uphold service” when a party receives
sufficient notice of the complaint, “neither actual
notice nor simply naming the defendant in the complaint will
provide personal jurisdiction without substantial compliance
with Rule 4.” Id. (citations omitted). Here,
Plaintiff has failed to substantially comply with Rule 4, and
it is not at all clear the parties have received any notice
of his lawsuit.
start, although his extended deadline to effect service on
the named Defendants was November 9, Plaintiff has not filed
a proof of service showing that Defendant Moore was served
with the summons and FAC. Thus, it appears he has not even
attempted to serve him with this lawsuit. See
Fed.R.Civ.P. 4(1) (requiring filing of proof of service).
his proofs of service as to Defendants Arias and Leal are
plainly defective. Neither one was served personally, nor was
a copy of the summons and FAC left at their respective
dwellings with someone who lives there. See
Fed.R.Civ.P. 4(e)(2)(A), (B). Instead, Plaintiff's
process server served the summonses on “Garcia, E.
(officer), ” who he claims was “designated by law
to accept service of process on behalf of [the] Los Angeles
Hollenbeck Police Station.” Cf. Fed.R.Civ.P.
4(e)(2)(C). But even if Garcia was authorized to accept
service of process on behalf of the police station or the
LAPD, service on those entities does not constitute valid
service on individual officers. See Taylor v. San
Bernardino Cnty. Sheriffs, No. EDCV 09-404-MMM (MAN).,
2009 WL 3365935, at *3 (C.D. Cal. Oct. 19, 2009) (citing
Daly-Murphy v. Winston, 837 F.2d 348, 355 (9th
on Arias and Leal does not appear to be proper under state
law either. A plaintiff must first exercise reasonable
diligence in attempting to personally serve an individual
defendant. Cal. Code Civ. P. § 415.20(b); Falco v.
Nissan N. Am., Inc., 987 F.Supp.2d 1071, 1079 (C.D. Cal.
2013). If those efforts are unsuccessful, section 415.20(b)
allows substitute service on an individual by leaving a copy
of the summons and complaint at the person's “usual
place of business” in the presence of the person
apparently “in charge” of that office. But
Plaintiff's proofs of service do not indicate that the
Hollenbeck Police Station was either officer's usual
place of business or that Garcia was the person apparently in
charge of that office. Further, the proofs of service bear no
indication that the process server was reasonably diligent in
attempting to effect personal service before pursuing a means
of substitute service or that he mailed a copy of the summons
and FAC to the person to be served at the place where the
summons and FAC were left, both of which are required by
California law. See Falco, 987 F.Supp.2d at 1079;
Raiser v. City of Murrieta, No. ED CV 17-01824-RGK
(RAO), 2018 WL 5961301, at *5-6 (C.D. Cal. July 13, 2018);
see also Bacon v. City & Cnty. of S.F., No.
C04-3437 TEH., 2005 WL 1910924, at *3 (N.D. Cal. Aug. 10,
2005) (finding that “service on an employer or its
agents” is not “sufficient to effect personal
service on an individual being sued in his or her
capacity” (citation omitted)).
Defendant City of Los Angeles, for service to be proper
against it Plaintiff was required to deliver a copy of the
summons and complaint to the city's chief executive
officer or to one of several “head” city
officials, including the city clerk. See Fed R. Civ.
P. 4(j)(2); Cal. Code Civ. P. § 416.50(a). Although
Plaintiff's process server does attest that he served the
“city clerk's office, ” he does not provide
an address for the office where he effected that service and
gives only the first name of the individual he served.
Without additional information, it is impossible to infer
that service was proper, particularly when the City Defendant
has not appeared in this lawsuit.
Defendant Moore was never served and the other named
Defendants were not properly served, Plaintiff has failed to
adequately serve the Defendants within the Rule 4(m) time
period and thus his claims against them are subject to
dismissal unless he can shown good cause for that failure.
See Fed.R.Civ.P. 4(m). No. later than 14 days from
the date of this order, Plaintiff must show cause in writing
why this lawsuit should not be dismissed for failure to
adequately serve the named Defendants. He is warned that if
he fails to timely respond to this OSC, his lawsuit may be
dismissed for that reason alone.
 Plaintiff does not provide first names
for officers Arias and Leal, but their first names appear on
the summonses ...