2010 Georgia Code
O.C.G.A. 9-11-4 (2010)
TITLE 9 - CIVIL PRACTICE
CHAPTER 11 - CIVIL PRACTICE ACT
ARTICLE 2 - COMMENCEMENT OF ACTION AND SERVICE
§ 9-11-4 - Process
(a) Summons -- Issuance. Upon the filing of the complaint, the clerk shall forthwith issue a summons and deliver it for service. Upon request of the plaintiff, separate or additional summons shall issue against any defendants.
(b) Summons -- Form. The summons shall be signed by the clerk; contain the name of the court and county and the names of the parties; be directed to the defendant; state the name and address of the plaintiff's attorney, if any, otherwise the plaintiff's address; and state the time within which this chapter requires the defendant to appear and file appropriate defensive pleadings with the clerk of the court, and shall notify the defendant that in case of the defendant's failure to do so judgment by default will be rendered against him or her for the relief demanded in the complaint.
(c) Summons -- By whom served. Process shall be served by:
(1) The sheriff of the county where the action is brought or where the defendant is found or by such sheriff's deputy;
(2) The marshal or sheriff of the court or by such official's deputy;
(3) Any citizen of the United States specially appointed by the court for that purpose;
(4) A person who is not a party and is not younger than 18 years of age and has been appointed as a permanent process server by the court in which the action is brought; or
(5) A certified process server under Code Section 9-11-4.1, provided that the sheriff of the county for which process is to be served allows such servers to serve process in such county.
Where the service of process is made outside of the United States, after an order of publication, it may be served either by any citizen of the United States or by any resident of the country, territory, colony, or province who is specially appointed by the court for that purpose. When service is to be made within this state, the person making such service shall make the service within five days from the time of receiving the summons and complaint; but failure to make service within the five-day period will not invalidate a later service.
(d) Waiver of service.
(1) A defendant who waives service of a summons does not thereby waive any objection to the venue or to the jurisdiction of the court over the person of the defendant.
(2) Upon receipt of notice of an action in the manner provided in this subsection, the following defendants have a duty to avoid unnecessary costs of serving the summons:
(A) A corporation or association that:
(i) Is subject to service under paragraph (1) or (2) of subsection (e) of this Code section; and
(ii) Receives notice of such action by an agent other than the Secretary of State; and
(B) A natural person who:
(i) Is not a minor; and
(ii) Has not been judicially declared to be of unsound mind or incapable of conducting his or her own affairs.
(3) To avoid costs, the plaintiff may notify such a defendant of the commencement of the action and request that the defendant waive service of a summons. The notice and request shall:
(A) Be in writing and shall be addressed directly to the defendant, if an individual, or else to an officer or managing or general agent or other agent authorized by appointment to receive service of process for a defendant subject to service under paragraph (1) or (2) of subsection (e) of this Code section;
(B) Be dispatched through first-class mail or other reliable means;
(C) Be accompanied by a copy of the complaint and shall identify the court in which it has been filed;
(D) Make reference to this Code section and shall inform the defendant, by means of the text prescribed in subsection (l) of this Code section, of the consequences of compliance and of failure to comply with the request;
(E) Set forth the date on which the request is sent;
(F) Allow the defendant a reasonable time to return the waiver, which shall be at least 30 days from the date on which the request is sent, or 60 days from that date if the defendant is addressed outside any judicial district of the United States; and
(G) Provide the defendant with an extra copy of the notice and request, as well as a prepaid means of compliance in writing.
(4) If a defendant located within the United States that is subject to service inside or outside the state under this Code section fails to comply with a request for a waiver made by a plaintiff located within the United States, the court shall impose the costs subsequently incurred in effecting service on the defendant unless good cause for the failure is shown.
(5) A defendant that, before being served with process, returns a waiver so requested in a timely manner is not required to serve an answer to the complaint until 60 days after the date on which the request for waiver of service was sent, or 90 days after that date if the defendant was addressed outside any judicial district of the United States.
(6) When the plaintiff files a waiver of service with the court, the action shall proceed, except as provided in paragraph (5) of this subsection, as if a summons and complaint had been served at the time of filing the waiver, and no proof of service shall be required.
(7) The costs to be imposed on a defendant under paragraph (4) of this subsection for failure to comply with a request to waive service of summons shall include the costs subsequently incurred in effecting service, together with the costs, including a reasonable attorney's fee, of any motion required to collect the costs of service.
(e) Summons -- Personal service. Except for cases in which the defendant has waived service, the summons and complaint shall be served together. The plaintiff shall furnish the clerk of the court with such copies as are necessary. Service shall be made by delivering a copy of the summons attached to a copy of the complaint as follows:
(1) If the action is against a corporation incorporated or domesticated under the laws of this state or a foreign corporation authorized to transact business in this state, to the president or other officer of the corporation, secretary, cashier, managing agent, or other agent thereof, provided that when for any reason service cannot be had in such manner, the Secretary of State shall be an agent of such corporation upon whom any process, notice, or demand may be served. Service on the Secretary of State of any such process, notice, or demand shall be made by delivering to and leaving with him or her or with any other person or persons designated by the Secretary of State to receive such service a copy of such process, notice, or demand, along with a copy of the affidavit to be submitted to the court pursuant to this Code section. The plaintiff or the plaintiff's attorney shall certify in writing to the Secretary of State that he or she has forwarded by registered mail or statutory overnight delivery such process, service, or demand to the last registered office or agent listed on the records of the Secretary of State, that service cannot be effected at such office, and that it therefore appears that the corporation has failed either to maintain a registered office or to appoint a registered agent in this state. Further, if it shall appear from such certification that there is a last known address of a known officer of the corporation outside the state, the plaintiff shall, in addition to and after such service upon the Secretary of State, mail or cause to be mailed to the known officer at the address by registered or certified mail or statutory overnight delivery a copy of the summons and a copy of the complaint. Any such service by certification to the Secretary of State shall be answerable not more than 30 days from the date the Secretary of State receives such certification;
(2) If the action is against a foreign corporation or a nonresident individual, partnership, joint-stock company, or association, doing business and having a managing or other agent, cashier, or secretary within this state, to such agent, cashier, or secretary or to an agent designated for service of process;
(3) If against a minor, to the minor, personally, and also to such minor's father, mother, guardian, or duly appointed guardian ad litem unless the minor is married, in which case service shall not be made on the minor's father, mother, or guardian;
(4) If against a person residing within this state who has been judicially declared to be of unsound mind or incapable of conducting his or her own affairs and for whom a guardian has been appointed, to the person and also to such person's guardian and, if there is no guardian appointed, then to his or her duly appointed guardian ad litem;
(5) If against a county, municipality, city, or town, to the chairman of the board of commissioners, president of the council of trustees, mayor or city manager of the city or to an agent authorized by appointment to receive service of process. If against any other public body or organization subject to an action, to the chief executive officer or clerk thereof;
(6) If the principal sum involved is less than $200.00 and if reasonable efforts have been made to obtain personal service by attempting to find some person residing at the most notorious place of abode of the defendant, then by securely attaching the service copy of the complaint in a conspicuously marked and waterproof packet to the upper part of the door of the abode and on the same day mailing by certified or registered mail or statutory overnight delivery an additional copy to the defendant at his or her last known address, if any, and making an entry of this action on the return of service; or
(7) In all other cases to the defendant personally, or by leaving copies thereof at the defendant's dwelling house or usual place of abode with some person of suitable age and discretion then residing therein, or by delivering a copy of the summons and complaint to an agent authorized by appointment or by law to receive service of process.
(f) Summons -- Other service.
(1) Service by publication.
(A) General. When the person on whom service is to be made resides outside the state, or has departed from the state, or cannot, after due diligence, be found within the state, or conceals himself or herself to avoid the service of the summons, and the fact shall appear, by affidavit, to the satisfaction of the judge or clerk of the court, and it shall appear, either by affidavit or by a verified complaint on file, that a claim exists against the defendant in respect to whom the service is to be made, and that he or she is a necessary or proper party to the action, the judge or clerk may grant an order that the service be made by the publication of summons, provided that when the affidavit is based on the fact that the party on whom service is to be made resides outside the state, and the present address of the party is unknown, it shall be a sufficient showing of such fact if the affiant shall state generally in the affidavit that at a previous time such person resided outside this state in a certain place (naming the place and stating the latest date known to affiant when the party so resided there); that such place is the last place in which the party resided to the knowledge of affiant; that the party no longer resides at the place; that affiant does not know the present place of residence of the party or where the party can be found; and that affiant does not know and has never been informed and has no reason to believe that the party now resides in this state; and, in such case, it shall be presumed that the party still resides and remains outside the state, and the affidavit shall be deemed to be a sufficient showing of due diligence to find the defendant. This Code section shall apply to all manner of civil actions, including those for divorce.
(B) Property. In any action which relates to, or the subject of which is, real or personal property in this state in which any defendant, corporate or otherwise, has or claims a lien or interest, actual or contingent, or in which the relief demanded consists wholly or in part of excluding such defendant from any interest therein, where the defendant resides outside the state or has departed from the state, or cannot, after due diligence, be found within the state, or conceals himself or herself to avoid the service of summons, the judge or clerk may make an order that the service be made by publication of summons. The service by publication shall be made in the same manner as provided in all cases of service by publication.
(C) Publication. When the court orders service by publication, the clerk shall cause the publication to be made in the paper in which sheriff's advertisements are printed, four times within the ensuing 60 days, publications to be at least seven days apart. The party obtaining the order shall, at the time of filing, deposit the cost of publication. The published notice shall contain the name of the parties plaintiff and defendant, with a caption setting forth the court, the character of the action, the date the action was filed, the date of the order for service by publication, and a notice directed and addressed to the party to be thus served, commanding him or her to file with the clerk and serve upon the plaintiff's attorney an answer within 60 days of the date of the order for service by publication and shall bear teste in the name of the judge and shall be signed by the clerk of the court. Where the residence or abiding place of the absent or nonresident party is known, the party obtaining the order shall advise the clerk thereof; and it shall be the duty of the clerk, within 15 days after filing of the order for service by publication, to enclose, direct, stamp, and mail a copy of the notice, together with a copy of the order for service by publication and complaint, if any, to the party named in the order at his or her last known address, if any, and make an entry of this action on the complaint or other pleadings filed in the case. The copy of the notice to be mailed to the nonresident shall be a duplicate of the one published in the newspaper but need not necessarily be a copy of the newspaper itself. When service by publication is ordered, personal service of a copy of the summons, complaint, and order of publication outside the state in lieu of publication shall be equivalent to serving notice by publication and to mailing when proved to the satisfaction of the judge or otherwise. The defendant shall have 30 days from the date of such personal service outside the state in which to file defensive pleadings.
(2) Personal service outside the state. Personal service outside the state upon a natural person may be made: (A) in any action where the person served is a resident of this state, and (B) in any action affecting specific real property or status, or in any other proceeding in rem without regard to the residence of the person served. When such facts shall appear, by affidavit, to the satisfaction of the court and it shall appear, either by affidavit or by a verified complaint on file, that a claim is asserted against the person in respect to whom the service is to be made, and that he or she is a necessary or proper party to the action, the court may grant an order that the service be made by personal service outside the state. Such service shall be made by delivering a copy of the process together with a copy of the complaint in person to the persons served.
(3) Service upon persons in a foreign country. Unless otherwise provided by law, service upon a person from whom a waiver has not been obtained and filed, other than an infant or an incompetent person, may be effected in a place not within the United States:
(A) By any internationally agreed means reasonably calculated to give notice, such as those means authorized by the Hague Convention on the Service Abroad of Judicial and Extrajudicial Documents;
(B) If there is no internationally agreed means of service or the applicable international agreement allows other means of service, provided that service is reasonably calculated to give notice:
(i) In the manner prescribed by the law of the foreign country for service in that country in an action in any of its courts of general jurisdiction;
(ii) As directed by the foreign authority in response to a letter rogatory or letter of request; or
(iii) Unless prohibited by the law of the foreign country, by:
(I) Delivery to the person of a copy of the summons and the complaint; or
(II) Any form of mail requiring a signed receipt, to be addressed and dispatched by the clerk of the court to the party to be served; or
(C) By other means not prohibited by international agreement as may be directed by the court.
(4) Service upon persons residing in gated and secured communities.
(A) As used in this paragraph, the term "gated and secured communities" means multiple residential or commercial properties, such as houses, condominiums, offices, or apartments, where access to the multiple residential or commercial properties is restricted by a gate, security device, or security attendant that restricts public entrance onto the property; provided, however, that a single residence, farm, or commercial property with its own fence or gate shall not be included in this definition.
(B) Any person authorized to serve process shall be granted access to gated and secured communities for a reasonable period of time during reasonable hours for the purpose of performing lawful service of process upon:
(i) Identifying to the guard or managing agent the person, persons, entity, or entities to be served;
(ii) Displaying a current driver's license or other government issued identification which contains a photograph; and
(iii) Displaying evidence of current appointment as a process server pursuant to this Code section.
(C) Any person authorized to serve process shall promptly leave gated and secured communities upon perfecting service of process or upon a determination that process cannot be effected at that time.
(g) Territorial limits of effective service. All process may be served anywhere within the territorial limits of the state and, when a statute so provides, beyond the territorial limits of the state.
(h) Return. The person serving the process shall make proof of such service with the court in the county in which the action is pending within five business days of the service date. If the proof of service is not filed within five business days, the time for the party served to answer the process shall not begin to run until such proof of service is filed. Proof of service shall be as follows:
(1) If served by a sheriff or marshal, or such official's deputy, the affidavit or certificate of the sheriff, marshal, or deputy;
(2) If by any other proper person, such person's affidavit;
(3) In case of publication, the certificate of the clerk of court certifying to the publication and mailing; or
(4) The written admission or acknowledgment of service by the defendant.
In the case of service otherwise than by publication, the certificate or affidavit shall state the date, place, and manner of service. Failure to make proof of service shall not affect the validity of the service.
(i) Amendment. At any time in its discretion and upon such terms as it deems just, the court may allow any process or proof of service thereof to be amended, unless it clearly appears that material prejudice would result to the substantial rights of the party against whom the process issued.
(j) Alternative service. The methods of service provided in this Code section are cumulative and may be utilized with, after, or independently of other methods of service. Whenever a statute provides for another method of service, service may be made under the circumstances and in the manner prescribed by the statute or under any other methods prescribed in this Code section. The provisions for service by publication provided in this Code section shall apply in any action or proceeding in which service by publication may be authorized by law; and, where by law special provision is made for service by publication, the procedure for such service by publication provided in this Code section may be utilized in lieu thereof. In all cases or special proceedings where the requirements or procedure for service, or both, are not prescribed by law and in any situation where the provisions therefor are not clear or certain, the court may prescribe service according to the exigencies of each case, consistent with the Constitution.
(k) Service in probate courts and special statutory proceedings. The methods of service provided in this Code section may be used as alternative methods of service in proceedings in the probate courts and in any other special statutory proceedings and may be used with, after, or independently of the method of service specifically provided for in any such proceeding; and, in any such proceeding, service shall be sufficient when made in accordance with the statutes relating particularly to the proceeding or in accordance with this Code section.
NOTICE OF LAWSUIT AND REQUEST FOR
WAIVER OF SERVICE OF SUMMONS
TO: (Name of individual defendant or name of officer or agent of corporate
defendant) as (title, or other relationship of individual to corporate
defendant) of (name of corporate defendant to be served, if any)
A lawsuit has been commenced against you (or the entity on whose behalf you
are addressed). A copy of the complaint is attached to this notice. The
complaint has been filed in the (court named on the complaint) for the State
of Georgia in and for the County of (county) and has been assigned (case
number of action).
This is not a formal summons or notification from the court, but rather my
request pursuant to Code Section 9-11-4 of the Official Code of Georgia
Annotated that you sign and return the enclosed Waiver of Service in order to
save the cost of serving you with a judicial summons and an additional copy of
the complaint. The cost of service will be avoided if I receive a signed copy
of the waiver within 30 days (or 60 days if located outside any judicial
district of the United States) after the date designated below as the date on
which this Notice of Lawsuit and Request for Waiver of Service of Summons is
sent. I enclose a stamped and addressed envelope (or other means of cost-free
return) for your use. An extra copy of the Waiver of Service is also attached
for your records. YOU ARE ENTITLED TO CONSULT WITH YOUR ATTORNEY REGARDING
If you comply with this request and return the signed Waiver of Service,
the waiver will be filed with the court and no summons will be served on you.
The action will then proceed as if you had been served on the date the waiver
is filed except that you will not be obligated to answer or otherwise respond
to the complaint within 60 days from the date designated below as the date on
which this notice is sent (or within 90 days from that date if your address is
not in any judicial district of the United States).
If you do not return the signed waiver within the time indicated, I will
take appropriate steps to effect formal service in a manner authorized by the
Georgia Rules of Civil Procedure and then, to the extent authorized by those
rules, I will ask the court to require you (or the party on whose behalf you
are addressed) to pay the full cost of such service. In that connection,
please read the statement concerning the duty of parties to avoid unnecessary
costs of service of summons, which is set forth on the Notice of Duty to Avoid
Unnecessary Costs of Service of Summons enclosed herein.
I affirm that this Notice of Lawsuit and Request for Waiver of Service of
Summons is being sent to you on behalf of the Plaintiff on this day of
Signature of plaintiff's attorney
WAIVER OF SERVICE OF SUMMONS
To: (Name of plaintiff's attorney or unrepresented plaintiff)
I acknowledge receipt of your request that I waive service of a summons in
the action of (caption of action), which is case number (docket number) in the
(name of court) of the State of Georgia in and for the County of (county). I
have also received a copy of the complaint in the action, two copies of this
instrument, and a means by which I can return the signed waiver to you without
cost to me. I understand that I am entitled to consult with my own attorney
regarding the consequences of my signing this waiver.
I agree to save the cost of service of a summons and an additional copy of
the complaint in this lawsuit by not requiring that I (or the entity on whose
behalf I am acting) be served with judicial process in the manner provided by
the Georgia Rules of Civil Procedure.
I (or the entity on whose behalf I am acting) will retain all defenses or
objections to the lawsuit or to the jurisdiction or venue of the court except
for objections based on a defect in the summons or in the service of the
I understand that a judgment may be entered against me (or the entity on
whose behalf I am acting) if an answer is not served upon you within 60 days
after the date this waiver was sent, or within 90 days after that date if the
request for the waiver was sent outside the United States.
This day of , .
(Printed or typed name of defendant)
of (name of corporate defendant, if any)
NOTICE OF DUTY TO AVOID UNNECESSARY
COSTS OF SERVICE OF SUMMONS
Subsection (d) of Code Section 9-11-4 of the Official Code of Georgia Annotated requires certain parties to cooperate in saving unnecessary costs of service of the summons and the pleading. A defendant located in the United States who, after being notified of an action and asked by a plaintiff located in the United States to waive service of a summons, fails to do so will be required to bear the cost of such service unless good cause be shown for such defendant's failure to sign and return the waiver.
It is not good cause for a failure to waive service that a party believes that the complaint is unfounded, or that the action has been brought in an improper place or in a court that lacks jurisdiction over the subject matter of the action or over its person or property. A party who waives service of the summons retains all defenses and objections (except any relating to the summons or to the service of the summons), and may later object to the jurisdiction of the court or to the place where the action has been brought.
A defendant who waives service must, within the time specified on the waiver form, serve on the plaintiff's attorney (or unrepresented plaintiff) a response to the complaint and also must file a signed copy of the response with the court. If the answer is not served within this time, a default judgment may be taken against that defendant. By waiving service, a defendant is allowed more time to answer than if the summons had been actually served when the request for waiver of service was received.
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