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Methods of Service of Legal Papers on a Person: New York

In order to properly commence a lawsuit, the plaintiff must serve a Summons and Complaint or a Summons with Notice upon the defendant. Proper service under CPLR 308 can be effectuated in a few different ways including:

  • Personally by delivering the papers to the Defendant;
  • Substituted service, by delivering papers 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


by either mailing the summons to the person to be served at his or her last known residence or by mailing the summons by first class mail to the person to be served at his or her actual place of business in an envelope labeled personal and confidential with no indication that the enclosed documents are pertaining to a lawsuit; or

  • Serving an Agent designated to accept service by the person to be served.

However, what happens if the Plaintiff is unable to complete service using one of the above methods? There is an alternative method of service allowed under CPLR 308(4) [1], commonly referred to as nail and mail service.

Pursuant to CPLR 308(4) proper service may be effectuated when both the summons is affixed to the door of the defendant's actual place of business or residence AND the summons is mailed to the defendant's last known residence or actual place of business, hence the "nail and mail" moniker.

If you are being sued over an outstanding debt and you were not personally served or properly served pursuant to CPLR 308 contact us today to discuss your legal options.