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Horack Talley obtains favorable ruling from the North Carolina Court of Appeals

9/30/2013

The North Carolina Court of Appeals published a unanimous decision in the matter of Hamilton v. Johnson, COA13-64. The appellate court vacated a temporary child support order and held various subsequent court orders entered over a nine-month period void for lack of personal jurisdiction over the defendant-father, a Texas resident.

The facts of the case included an unknown individual signing for and accepting a certified mailing containing a complaint and civil summons, addressed to defendant-father at his Texas condominium. Horack Talley attorneys Gena Graham Morris and Christopher T. Hood asserted that the third party's signature for and acceptance of the package failed to satisfy procedural requirements governing service of process, and as such defendant-father was never properly served with the lawsuit. In the absence of proper service, Horack Talley argued, the trial court did not have the authority to enter orders including such directives as for Texas authorities to arrest and extradite defendant-father to appear before a Mecklenburg County court.

The Court of Appeals held that without crucial details identifying the third party, alleged to be a concierge, there was no way for the court to conclude that the individual's acceptance on defendant-father's behalf complied with North Carolina Rules of Civil Procedure. The court went on to hold that the quantity and quality of defendant-father's contacts with North Carolina were too attenuated to justify the trial court's exercise of personal jurisdiction over defendant-father.

For additional media coverage of the appellate decision and more details regarding the underlying case, please see the Lawyers Weekly article "You've been served - or maybe not." To read the full opinion, please click here.

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