Espinoza v. Humphries, No. 21-11202 (5th Cir. 2022)Annotate this Case
Plaintiff sued Defendant in a Texas federal court to recover unpaid legal fees. The federal rules allow service under the law of the state “where service is made,” Fed. R. Civ. P. 4(e)(1), so Plaintiff tried serving Defendant by publication under Florida law. But that publication notice was defective. Noting that defect, Defendant moved to vacate his default. Fed. R. Civ. P. 55(c). But the district court declined and soon entered a default judgment.
The Fifth Circuit vacated and remanded the district court’s judgment. The court held that it was an error for the district court to decline to consider Defendant’s objection to improper service. The court explained that because Defendant was never properly served, he showed good cause to set aside his default and the default judgment that followed.