California federal court allows service of process on foreign defendant via Twitter

tetrOn September 30, 2016, a California federal court granted permission to serve process through Twitter on a foreign defendant.

Plaintiff St. Francis Assisi (a non-profit corporation) sued the defendants Kuwait Finance House, Kuveyt-Turk Participation Bank Inc., and Hajjaj al-Ajmi (an individual) for damages and equitable relief arising from the defendants’ financing of the terrorist organization Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), “which resulted in the targeted murder of Assyrian Christians in Iraq and Syria.”  Plaintiff could not serve Hajjaj al-Ajmi, a Kuwaiti national: any effort to locate him had been unsuccessful.

Kuwait is not a signatory to the Hague Convention on the Service Abroad of Judicial and Extrajudicial Documents; previous attempts to serve Defendant through Kuwait’s Central Authority were unsuccessful, as Kuwait’s Central Authority (Kuwait’s specified means of international service) refused to accept the summons and complaint. Plaintiff had not been successful in serving process.

However, Defendant was active on Twitter and had a large following on the social-media platform.

The Court granted Plaintiff’s request to serve defendant via Twitter because it was “reasonably calculated to give notice and is not prohibited by international agreement”.

Other courts have authorized service by social media in similar cases before. For example, in 2015 a New York County Supreme Court granted permission to serve a divorce summons using exclusively a private message through Facebook. See here.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Laurel Beeler motion to serve is available at…   Open PDF

E-Service timeline and list of cases is available at…

For more information, Francesca Giannoni-Crystal

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