Tenacious, creative solutions
In one case we were hired to do an investigation for plaintiffs’ counsel in a class action case against a nursery that was accused of not paying its workers overtime, which is mandated for hourly workers under federal law. The company only had one owner/officer — who was also being sued as an individual — and this defendant also happened to be the company’s registered agent. We therefore had to serve this person with two summonses (and two complaints): one as the registered agent for his business and the second in his individual capacity.
We first tried to serve this defendant at the nursery, but his office was in the back of the building, and the receptionist told us he was not there. However, we learned from some of his employees (who were opt-ins in the lawsuit) that the defendant had been there but had left out the back door when he learned of the summonses. He had reportedly got wind of the lawsuit through an employee who remained loyal to him.
At this point, we could have tried to serve one of the summonses—the one directed to the defendant personally—to his wife at their home, since the rules of service in this case allowed for service to a family member living at the subject’s abode. However, we decided not to do this, since this would not satisfy service to the company, and because we now knew the defendant would actively dodge us.
The light turned green, and our investigator took off and was gone before the defendant even realized he had been served.
Another complication was that the nursery had an elaborate security system which allowed the defendant to sit in his office and see everyone coming and going from the building. Catching him with his guard down was going to be incredibly difficult. Likewise, we knew that we would never get him to come to the door at his house. We had to find a way to catch him between the nursery and his home.
Our investigator set up surveillance close to the end of the workday in a park across the street from the nursery, waiting for the defendant to get into his car. When the defendant got into his car and started driving home, our investigator got on a motorcycle and followed the defendant from a distance that did not draw suspicion. It was a beautiful spring day, and the defendant had his window open.
At a red light, our investigator pulled up next to the defendant and dropped both summonses (and complaints) onto his lap. The light turned green, and our investigator took off and was gone before the defendant even realized he had been served.