United States District Court, D. New Jersey
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Dunn Wettre United States Magistrate Judge.
the Court is plaintiff pro se 's Motion for
Alternative Method of Service. ECF No. 3. Having considered
plaintiffs submission, for the reasons set forth below, the
motion is DENIED WITHOUT PREJUDICE.
BACKGROUND AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
alleges that defendants published a video on YouTube titled
"Top 15 Scary People Accidentally on Live TV," and
improperly referenced an incident in which plaintiff was
involved that is currently the subject of criminal
proceedings. ECF No. 1. Plaintiff claims that the implication
in this video "impugns [his] character," has caused
impairment to his "reputation and standing in the
community," and has prejudiced him in the criminal
proceeding. Id. Plaintiff seeks damages and an
injunction requiring defendants to permanently remove the
video from the internet. Id.
December 28, 2018, the Valley County Sheriffs Office
attempted to personally serve defendant Jessica Holom at her
residence in Montana. ECF No. 3-2 pp. 5-7. The Deputy was
informed that defendant had moved out of the country to
Algeria, and later that day, defendant Holom called the
Sherriff s Office stating the same. Id. Plaintiff
now moves for leave to serve the Summons and Complaint on
Holom by alternative means. ECF No. 3. Specifically,
plaintiff seeks to serve Holom by Facebook, and the John Doe
defendants "Chills" and the "Benson
Brother" by Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. Id.
reasons set forth below, the plaintiffs motion for
alternative service is denied without prejudice. The Court
assesses plaintiffs motion as to Jessica Holom under the
purview of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 4(f), governing
service of process on foreign defendants, as plaintiff has
recently learned that defendant Holom is residing in Algeria.
As to the John Doe defendants, however, the Court does not
assess the motion under Rule 4, as it cannot permit service
on an unnamed defendant. See Nadal v. Christie, Civ.
No. 13-5447 (RBK), 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 84915, at *29 n.5
(D.N.J. June 20, 2019). Plaintiff must identify and attempt
to serve the John Doe defendants before the Court may
consider granting a motion for alternative service.
Rule of Civil Procedure 4(f) governs service of process on
defendants in foreign countries and sets forth three methods
for service: (1) under the Hague Convention or other
international agreement; (2) in the absence of limitations
under an international agreement, as a foreign country's
law prescribes or permits or as directed by a foreign
authority; or (3) by other alternative means not prohibited
by international agreement, as directed by the Court. Where,
as here, the nation where defendant resides, Algeria, is not
a signatory to the Hague Convention, and where plaintiff has
not made any request to serve defendant in accordance with
Algerian law, the Court assesses whether plaintiff may serve
defendant under Rule 4(f)(3).
may grant motions for alternative service when the movant has
shown that there is no international agreement prohibiting
service by the proposed method and that the proposed method
of service is reasonably calculated to provide the defendant
with notice. Bravetti v. Liu, Civ. No. 12-7492
(TJB), 2013 WL 6501740, at *3 (D.N.J. Dec. 11, 2013); SEC
v. Dubovoy, Civ. No. 15-6076 (MAH), 2016 WL 7217607, at
*2-3 (D.N.J. Dec. 13, 2016); Mullane v. Cent Hanover Bank
& Trust Co., 339 U.S. 306, 314 (1950) (holding
method of service must be reasonably calculated to provide
notice under all circumstances).
plaintiff seeks to serve defendant Holom via Facebook
pursuant to Rule 4(f)(3). The Court considers whether this
would be prohibited by international agreement and whether
service by such means would be reasonably calculated to
provide notice to defendant.
has not shown that sending defendant Holom the Summons and
Complaint via her Facebook account would be reasonably
calculated to provide actual notice, and thus the Court need
not address whether such service would be prohibited by
international agreement. Plaintiff has provided no proof that
the Facebook account he seeks to serve belongs to defendant
Holom, that the account is active, or that defendant actually
receives the messages sent to the account. Accordingly,
plaintiffs motion is denied without prejudice to a further
showing by plaintiff that such service would provide
defendant with actual notice of the suit, and that it is not
prohibited by applicable law.