Wednesday, June 12, 2013

You Got Served?

Over the weekend, singer Ciara accepted an unusual gift from a front-row concert attendee – legal papers. Hollywood gossip site TMZ shared a video of the Grammy nominee's performance at a Los Angeles Pride week event, during which she reaches to greet an audience member who hands her several pages of paper. Ciara scans the material briefly before tossing it back to the crowd, never interrupting her performance. The apparent process server picks up the discarded papers and places them back on the stage, reassuring the camera operator, "She got served," with a wide smile.

The lawsuit stems from a dispute over an appearance at an earlier Los Angeles Pride event, at West Hollywood bar called The Factory. Club owners maintain that the singer backed out of an agreement to visit the club on the day before her concert performance, but Ciara's management denies that she was ever officially scheduled to appear at the earlier event. The full complaint is available to Duke Law students, faculty and staff through Bloomberg Law. The case docket is also available for tracking through Bloomberg's docket search and updates feature.

While service of process by interrupting a singer mid-performance is unusual, the video presents an interesting potential piece of evidence that the documents were received (however briefly) by the defendant. Service of process is a critical part of any lawsuit, and improper service can result in a quick dismissal. Each jurisdiction has its own rules governing service of process, including who may serve, who may be served, and the preferred methods of service. These can generally be found in state and federal codes, with further explanations available in secondary sources like legal encyclopedias. 

For help tracking dockets in pending lawsuits like Ciara's, consult our research guide to Court Records and Briefs. For assistance with locating the service of process rules in a particular jurisdiction, be sure to Ask a Librarian.