Key Decisions

December 2013 – A Homeless Person Can Be “Personally” Served At Their Designated UPS Store Address

(filed under: Key Decisions | December 19, 2013)

A Homeless Person Can Be “Personally” Served At Their Designated UPS Store Address

Sweeting v. Murat
(Cal. Ct. of App., 2d Dist.), filed November 13, 2013, published November 13, 2013

KEY FACTS

Robert Sweeting sued Susan and Mary Murat, among others, for disposing of his personal property, which was in a shipping container at a storage facility. Sweeting was acting as his own attorney. Moreover, he was homeless and used a rental mailbox at a UPS Store as an address. This address was reflected in a Notice of Change of Address Form that Sweeting filed with the court.

The Murats filed a summary judgment motion and two discovery motions against Sweeting. All three were set for hearing on the same date. The Murats personally served these at Sweeting’s UPS Store address.

Sweeting filed oppositions two days before the hearing. The trial court exercised its discretion to disregard the oppositions for being late. The trial court then granted the motions, rejecting Sweeting’s argument that the motions had not been properly served.

HOLDING & REASONING

The Court of Appeal described the case as an issue of first impression regarding personal service on a party who is not represented by counsel and does not have a permanent residence.

Code of Civil Procedure section 1011(b) provides that personal service on a party to a lawsuit:

“shall be made in the manner specifically provided in particular cases, or, if no specific provision is made, service may be made by leaving the notice or other paper at the party’s residence, between the hours of eight in the morning and six in the evening, with some person of not less than 18 years of age.”

Personal service at the UPS Store was effective because Sweeting’s Notice of Change of Address form specified the UPS Store as his address and stated that service could be effectuated there.

ANALYSIS

Regardless of the merits, litigants cannot deprive their opponents of the ability to personally serve motions by using a rental mail box as one’s address.