THE PRESUMPTION OF PROPER SERVICE CREATED BY THE PROCESS SERVER’S AFFIDAVIT WAS REBUTTED BY DEFENDANT’S AFFIDAVIT CLAIMING THAT THE PLACE WHERE SERVICE WAS MADE HAD NO CONNECTION WITH HIM OR HIS BUSINESS, SUPREME COURT SHOULD HAVE HELD A HEARING ON DEFENDANT’S MOTION TO VACATE A DEFAULT JUDGMENT (SECOND DEPT).

The Second Department determined Supreme Court should have held a hearing to determine whether the defendant corporation, Advanced, and its principal, Trimarco, were¬†properly served with the summons and complaint. The presumption of proper service created by the process server’s affidavit was rebutted by Trimarco’s affidavit stating that the place where service was made, and any person at that location, had no connection to him or the business:

Trimarco submitted an affidavit in which he claimed that both he and Advanced were improperly served at a residence that he had “sold to an unrelated third party three years ago.” He further averred that, on the date service was purportedly made, he had no relationship with any person at [the residence], and no person at that address was authorized to accept service on behalf of Advanced. …

The Supreme Court should not have, in effect, denied that branch of the defendants’ motion which was pursuant to CPLR 5015(a)(4) to vacate the judgment and dismiss the complaint without first conducting a hearing. “Ordinarily, a process server’s affidavit of service establishes a prima facie case as to the method of service and, therefore, gives rise to a presumption of proper service” … . “[W]here there is a sworn denial that a defendant was served with process, the affidavit of service is rebutted, and the plaintiff must establish jurisdiction at a hearing by a preponderance of the evidence” … .

With respect to service on Advanced, CPLR 311(a)(1) provides that personal service upon a corporation shall be made, among other ways, “to an officer, director, managing or general agent, or cashier or assistant cashier or to any other agent authorized by appointment or by law to receive service.” Personal service on a corporation must be made to one of the persons authorized by the statute to accept service, and an attempt to serve such person by substitute service pursuant to CPLR 308(2) or (4) will be insufficient to acquire jurisdiction over the corporation … . …

With respect to service on Trimarco, CPLR 308(2) provides, in relevant part, that service may be made upon a natural person “by delivering the summons within the state to a person of suitable age and discretion at the actual place of business, dwelling place or usual place of abode of the person to be served.” Here, Trimarco’s detailed affidavit, in which he claimed that the address where service was made was not his actual place of business, dwelling place, or usual place of abode, was sufficient to rebut the presumption of proper service created by the plaintiff’s affidavit of service … . Finnegan v Trimarco, 2019 NY Slip Op 04361, Second Dept 6-5-19

 

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