Unlawful Detainer - Service of Process


Ex parte Trinity Property Consultants, LLC, [Ms. 1180642, Aug. 30, 2019] __ So. 3d __ (Ala. 2019). In a plurality opinion, the Court (Sellers, J.; Bolin, Wise, and Mendheim, JJ., concur; Bryan and Mitchell, JJ., concur in the result; Parker, C.J., and Shaw and Stewart, JJ., dissent) reverses on certiorari review a judgment of the Court of Civil Appeals holding that Trinity Property Consultants, LLC had failed to demonstrate that its tenant had been properly served in an unlawful detainer proceeding.

The Court of Civil Appeals had reversed a default judgment in favor of Trinity “because the process server’s affidavit did not include enough information to support the propriety of service by posting and mailing.” Ms. *5. Section 35-9A-461(c) of the Alabama Uniform Residential Landlord and Tenant Act allows service by posting and mailing “‘if after reasonable effort no person is found residing on the premises ....’” Ms. *7. The Court concluded that “in the absence of any extraordinary facts, the process server’s single attempt at personal service by knocking on the door to determine if anyone was home was suitable under the circumstances.” Ms. *13 (emphasis in original).

Justice Shaw’s dissent, joined by Justice Stewart, concluded there was insufficient information regarding the circumstances of the attempt at personal service to determine that the effort was reasonable. Ms. *16. The dissent noted that the process server’s affidavit did not state the time of day he knocked on the door of the residence. Ibid.

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