2014 Montana Code Annotated
Title 25. CIVIL PROCEDURE
CHAPTER 23. MONTANA JUSTICE AND CITY COURT RULES OF CIVIL PROCEDURE
Part 1. MONTANA JUSTICE AND CITY COURT RULES OF CIVIL PROCEDURE
Rule 4. Persons -- jurisdiction -- process -- service.

MT Code § Rule 4 (2014) What's This?

Rule 4. Persons -- jurisdiction -- process -- service. A. PERSON. As used in this rule, the word "person", whether or not a United States citizen or resident of this state and whether or not organized under the laws of this state, includes: (1) an individual, whether operating in the individual's own name or under a trade name; (2) an individual's agent or personal representative; (3) a corporation, business trust, estate, trust, partnership, or limited liability company; (4) any two or more persons having a joint or common interest; and (5) any other legal or commercial entity. B. JURISDICTION OF PERSONS. (1) Subject to jurisdiction. All persons are subject to the jurisdiction of a justice or city court who reside or are found within the State of Montana. (2) Acquisition of jurisdiction. A justice or city court may acquire jurisdiction over a person through service of process as provided in these rules, through the voluntary appearance in an action by a person, either personally or through an attorney or any other authorized officer, agent, or employee. Each defendant must be served separately. C. PROCESS. (1) Summons -- issuance. Upon the filing of the complaint, the judge or the clerk shall issue a summons upon request of a plaintiff. Separate or additional summons must be issued, upon request, against any parties designated in the original action or against any additional parties who may be brought into the action. (2) Summons -- form. The summons must be directed to the defendant and signed by the judge or clerk and must contain: (a) the title of the court, the name of the county and city in which the action is commenced, and the names of the parties to the action; (b) a direction that the defendant appear and file a written answer in the justice or city court within 20 days after service of summons and complaint, exclusive of the day of service, or such other period as may be specified by law, and serve a copy upon the plaintiff or the plaintiff's attorney; (c) a statement that upon failure to appear and answer or assert a counterclaim, the plaintiff may take judgment against the defendant by default for the relief demanded in the complaint; and (d) the name, address, and telephone number of the plaintiff or the plaintiff's attorney. D. SERVICE OF PROCESS. (1) By whom served. (a) Service of all process must be made by a sheriff of the county where the party to be served is found, by a deputy, by a constable authorized by law, or by any other person 18 years of age or older who is not a party to the action. (b) (i) A summons and complaint may also be served upon a defendant who is an individual, other than a minor or an incompetent person, or upon a domestic or foreign corporation or partnership or other limited liability company by mailing a copy of the summons and complaint by first-class mail, postage prepaid, to the person to be served, together with two copies of a notice and acknowledgment conforming substantially to Form 18-A, M.R.Civ.P., and a return envelope, postage prepaid, addressed to the sender. If an acknowledgment of service under this subsection is not received by the sender within 20 days after the date of mailing, service of the summons and complaint must be made by one of the persons specified in Rule 4D(1)(a) in the manner prescribed by Rule 4D(2) and (3). (ii) If the person served does not complete and return the notice and acknowledgment of receipt of summons and complaint within the 20-day period, the court shall order the person to pay the costs of the personal service unless good cause is shown. (iii) The notice and acknowledgment of receipt of the summons and complaint must be signed and dated. Service of the summons and complaint is complete on the date the defendant signs the acknowledgment. (2) Personal service within court's jurisdiction. (a) The plaintiff shall furnish the person making service with all necessary copies. (b) Service must be made: (i) upon an individual other than a minor or an incompetent person, by delivering a copy of the summons and complaint to the defendant personally or by delivering a copy of the summons and complaint to an agent authorized by appointment or by law to receive service of process, provided that if the agent is one designated by statute to receive service, further notice as the statute requires must be given; (ii) upon a minor, by delivering a copy of the summons and complaint to the minor and to the minor's guardian or guardian ad litem; (iii) upon a person who has been adjudged of unsound mind by a court of this state or for whom a guardian has been appointed in this state by reason of incompetency, by delivering a copy of the summons and complaint to the person's guardian, if there is one residing in this state appointed and acting under the laws of this state. If there is no guardian, the court shall appoint a guardian ad litem for the incompetent person, with or without personal service on the incompetent, as the court may direct. When a party is alleged to be of unsound mind but has not been so adjudged by a court of this state, the party may be brought into court by service of process personally. The court may also stay any action pending against the person on learning that the person is of unsound mind. (iv) upon a domestic corporation, partnership or other limited liability company, or a foreign corporation or partnership or other limited liability company established by the laws of any other state or country, that had a place of business within this state or was doing business in this state either permanently or temporarily at the time the claim for relief accrued: (A) by delivering a copy of the summons and complaint to an officer, director, superintendent, managing or general agent, partner, or associate for the corporation, partnership, or association or by leaving the copy at the office or place of business of the corporation, partnership, or association within the state with the person in charge of the office; (B) by delivering a copy of the summons and complaint to the registered agent of the corporation named on the records of the secretary of state or to any other agent or attorney-in-fact authorized by appointment or by statute to receive or accept service on behalf of the corporation, partnership, or association, provided that if the agent or attorney-in-fact is one designated by statute to receive service, any further notice required by statute must also be given; (C) if the sheriff shall make return that no person upon whom service may be made can be found in the county, then by leaving a copy of the summons and complaint at any office of the corporation, partnership, or limited liability company within this state with the person in charge of the office; or (D) if the suit is against a corporation whose charter or right to do business in the state has expired or been forfeited, by delivering a copy of the summons and complaint to a trustee for the corporation and to its stockholders or members. (v) upon a city, town, school district, or public agency or board of such a public body, by delivering a copy of the summons and complaint to any commissioner, trustee, board member, mayor, or head of the legislative department of the public body; (vi) upon an estate, by delivering a copy of the summons and complaint to the personal representative of the estate; (vii) upon a trust, by delivering a copy of the summons and complaint to any trustee thereof. (c) (i) When a claim for relief is pending in a justice or city court of this state against any of the following persons, the party causing the summons to be issued shall exercise reasonable diligence to ascertain the last-known address of: (A) a corporation organized under the laws of this state or a corporation organized under the laws of any other state or country that has filed a copy of its charter in the office of the secretary of state of Montana and that is qualified to do business in Montana; (B) a corporation organized under the laws of any other state or country that is subject to the jurisdiction of the justice or city courts of this state under the provisions of Rule 4B, even though the corporation has never qualified to do business in Montana; or (C) a national banking corporation that, through insolvency or lapse of charter, has ceased to do business in Montana and when none of the persons designated in Rule 4D(2)(b)(iv) can with the exercise of reasonable diligence be found within Montana. (ii) Upon the filing with the justice or city court in which the claim for relief is pending of an affidavit reciting that none of the persons designated in Rule 4D(2)(b)(iv) can after due diligence be found within Montana, reciting the last-known address of any of those persons, or reciting that after the exercise of reasonable diligence no address for any of the persons could be found and after deposit with the justice or city court of the sum to be paid to the secretary of state as a fee for each of the defendants for whom the secretary of state is to receive service, the judge shall issue an order directing process to be served upon the secretary of state or, if absent from the office, upon the deputy secretary of state. The affidavit is sufficient evidence of the diligence of inquiry made by the affiant if it recites that diligent inquiry was made. The affidavit need not detail the facts constituting the inquiry. (iii) The judge shall mail to the secretary of state the original summons, one copy each of the summons and the affidavit for the files of the secretary of state, one copy of the summons attached to a copy of the complaint for each of the defendants to be served by service upon the secretary of state, and the fee for service. (iv) The secretary of state shall mail a copy of the summons and complaint by certified mail with a return receipt requested to the last-known address of any of the persons designated in Rule 4D(2)(b)(iv) or, if no address is known and the person is a corporation not organized in Montana, to the secretary of state of the state in which the corporation was originally incorporated, if known, and the secretary of state shall make the return as provided under Rule 4D(5). (v) When service is made upon the secretary of state, it is considered personal service on the corporation, and the secretary of state, or the deputy when the secretary of state is absent from the office, is hereby appointed agent of the corporation for service of process. (vi) In an action in which due diligence has been exercised to locate and serve any of the persons designated in Rule 4D(2)(b)(iv), service is considered complete upon the corporation regardless of the receipt or advice of refusal of the addressee to receive the process mailed, as required by Rule 4D(5). (vii) When the service of process is made as provided in this subsection (2)(c) and there is no appearance thereafter made by an attorney for the corporation, service of all other notices required by law to be served in the action may be served on the secretary of state. (3) Other service. All process in any form of action must be served in the manner specified in this rule, with the exception that whenever a statute of this state or an order of the court made pursuant to this rule or a statute provides for the service of a notice or an order in lieu of summons upon a person, service must be made under the circumstances and in the manner prescribed by the statute or order and with the further exception that all persons are required to comply with the provisions of 33-1-603, 33-1-613, 33-1-614, 33-2-314, and 33-2-315 when the action pertains to the provisions of those sections. (4) Service by publication -- when permitted -- effect -- manner -- proof. (a) When permitted. A defendant, whether known or unknown, who has not been served under this rule may be served by publication only when the subject of the action is real or personal property in this state and: (i) the defendant has or claims a lien or interest, actual or contingent, in the real or personal property; or (ii) the relief demanded consists wholly or partially in excluding the defendant from any interest in the real or personal property. (b) Effect of service by publication. When a defendant, whether known or unknown, has been served by publication as provided in this rule, any court of this state having jurisdiction may render a decree that will adjudicate any interest of the defendant in the status, property, or thing acted upon, but the court may not bind the defendant personally to the personal jurisdiction of the court unless some ground for the exercise of personal jurisdiction exists. (c) Filing of pleading and affidavit for service by publication -- order for publication. (i) Before service of the summons by publication is authorized in any case, there must be filed with the judge or court clerk of the justice or city court in which the action is commenced: (A) a pleading setting forth a claim in favor of the plaintiff and against the defendant as provided in Rule 4D(4)(a); and (B) upon return of the summons showing the failure to find any defendant designated in the complaint, an affidavit stating: (I) that the defendant resides out of the state, has departed from the state, cannot after due diligence be found within the state, or is concealed to avoid the service of summons; or (II) if the defendant is a domestic or foreign corporation, that none of the persons designated in Rule 4D(2)(b)(iv) can after due diligence be found within the state; or (III) if the defendant is an unknown claimant, that the plaintiff has made a diligent search and inquiry for all persons who claim or might claim any right or title to, estate or interest in, or lien or encumbrance upon all or any part of the property that is adverse to plaintiff's ownership or all persons who may cloud the plaintiff's title to the property, whether the claim or possible claim is present or contingent, including any right of dower, inchoate or accrued; and (IV) that the plaintiff has specifically named as defendants in the action all persons whose names can be ascertained. (ii) The affidavit is sufficient evidence of the diligence of any inquiry made by the affiant if the affidavit recites the fact that diligent inquiry was made. The affidavit need not detail the facts constituting the inquiry. If desired, it may be combined in one instrument with the affidavit required under Rule 4D(2)(c) after presenting to the court proof that a valid attachment or garnishment has been effected. (iii) Upon complying with this subsection (c), the plaintiff may obtain an order for the service of summons to be made upon the defendants by publication, which order may be issued by either the judge or the court clerk. (d) Number of publications. Service of the summons by publication may be made by publishing the summons three times, once each week for 3 successive weeks, in a newspaper published in the county in which the action is pending. If no newspaper is published in the county, then the service of summons by publication must be made in a newspaper published in an adjoining county and having a general circulation in the county in which the action is pending. (e) Mailing summons and complaint. At any time after the filing of the affidavit for publication and not later than 10 days after the first publication of the summons, a copy of the summons for publication and a copy of the complaint must be deposited in a post office in this state, postage prepaid, and directed to the defendant at the defendant's place of residence unless the affidavit for publication states that the residence of the defendant is unknown. If the defendant is a corporation and personal service cannot with due diligence be effected within Montana on any of the persons designated in Rule 4D(2)(b)(iv), then service may be completed on the corporation by service upon the secretary of state pursuant to the provisions of Rule 4D(2)(c). (5) Service on secretary of state. (a) (i) Whenever service is to be made upon certain corporations as provided in Rule 4D(2)(c), the requirements of that subsection must be complied with. In all other cases, unless otherwise provided by statute, whenever the secretary of state of the state of Montana has been appointed or is considered by law to have been appointed as the agent to receive service of process for any person who cannot with due diligence be found or served personally within Montana, the party or the party's attorney shall: (A) make an affidavit stating the facts showing that the secretary of state is the agent and stating the residence and last-known post-office address of the person to be served; (B) file the affidavit with the justice or city court in which the claim for relief is pending; and (C) provide sufficient copies of the affidavit, summons, and complaint for service upon the secretary of state. (ii) When there has been deposited with the justice or city court in which the claim for relief is pending the sum to be paid to the secretary of state as a fee for each of the defendants for whom the secretary of state is to receive service, then the judge shall mail to the secretary of state the original summons, one copy each of the summons and the affidavit for the files of the secretary of state, one copy of the summons attached to a copy of the complaint for each of the defendants to be served by service upon the secretary of state, and the fee for service. (b) Service on the secretary of state is sufficient personal service upon the person to be served, provided that notice of the service and a copy of the summons and complaint are sent by certified mail by the secretary of state or deputy to the party to be served at the party's last-known address, marked "deliver to addressee only" and "return receipt requested", and provided further that the return receipt is received by the secretary of state and purports to have been signed by the addressee or the secretary of state is advised by the post office that delivery of the certified mail was refused by the addressee, except in those cases where compliance is excused under the provisions of Rule 4D(2)(c). The date the secretary of state receives the return receipt or receives advice by the post office that delivery of the certified mail was refused by the addressee is considered the date of service. As an alternative to sending the summons and complaint by certified mail, the secretary of state or deputy may cause a copy of the summons and complaint to be served by a qualified law enforcement officer, in accordance with the procedure set out in Rule 4D(1), (2), or (3). (c) (i) The secretary of state or deputy shall make an original and two copies of an affidavit reciting: (A) the fact of service upon the secretary of state by the justice or city court, including the day and hour of the service; (B) the fact that a copy of the summons and complaint and notice has been mailed to the defendant, including the day and hour of the mailing, except in those cases where the secretary of state is relieved from doing so under the provisions of Rule 4D(2)(c), in which case the affidavit must so state; and (C) the fact of the receipt of a return from the post office, including the date and hour of receipt, with a copy of the return to be attached to the affidavit. (ii) The secretary of state or deputy shall then transmit the original summons and the original affidavit, along with a copy of the notice to the defendant if a notice is required, to the justice or city court in which the claim for relief is pending, where it must be filed in the claim for relief by the judge. The secretary of state shall also transmit to the attorney for the plaintiff a copy of the affidavit of the secretary of state, along with a copy of the notice to the defendant if a notice is required. (iii) The secretary of state shall keep on file in the office a copy of the summons, a copy of the affidavit served on the secretary of state by the judge, and a copy of the affidavit executed and issued by the secretary of state. (6) Continuance to allow defense. In any of the cases provided for in Rule 4D(2)(c), the court in which the claim for relief is pending may order a continuance as may be necessary to afford reasonable opportunity to defend the action. (7) Amendment. At any time, in its discretion, and upon such notice and terms as it considers just, the court may allow any process or proof of service to be amended unless it clearly appears that material prejudice would result to the substantial rights of the party against whom the process was issued. (8) Proof of service. (a) Proof of the service of the summons and of the complaint or notice, if any, accompanying the same must be as follows: (i) if served by a constable or other officer, a certificate of service; or (ii) if served by any other person, an affidavit of service; and (iii) the written admission of the defendant showing the date and place of service. (b) The certificate or affidavit of service mentioned in subsection (8)(a) must state the time, date, place, and manner of service. (9) Contents of affidavit of service. Whenever a process, pleading, order of court, or other paper is served personally by a person other than the sheriff, constable, or person designated by law, the affidavit of service must state: (a) that the person so serving is of legal age; (b) the date and place of service; and (c) that the person making the service knew the person served to be the person named and intended to be served. (10) Procedure where only some of defendants served. If the summons is not served on all of the defendants, the plaintiff may proceed to trial and judgment against the defendant or defendants on whom the process is served and may at any time thereafter have a summons served against any defendant not served with the first process to cause that defendant to appear in court to show cause why that defendant should not be made a party to the judgment. Upon a defendant being duly served with the process, the court shall hear and determine the matter in the same manner as if the defendant had been originally brought into court, and the defendant must also be allowed the benefit of any payment or satisfaction that may have been made on the judgment before recovered. ___________________ Plaintiff/Plaintiff Attorney ___________________ Address ____________________ Plaintiff/Plaintiff Attorney telephone number IN THE JUSTICE/CITY COURT OF_____________ COUNTY, MONTANA BEFORE______, JUSTICE OF THE PEACE/CITY JUDGE.

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___________________, ) Plaintiff, ) Civil Case________ vs. ) SUMMONS ___________________, ) Defendant. ) ___________________ ) THE STATE OF MONTANA TO THE ABOVE-NAMED DEFENDANT, GREETINGS: You are hereby summoned to answer the Complaint in this action which is filed in the office of the above-entitled Justice of the Peace/City Judge, a copy of which is herewith served upon you. In the event that you deny any or all of the material facts stated in the complaint, you must file your written answer together with a $15.00 answer fee for each Defendant with the above-entitled Court, and serve a copy of your answer upon the Plaintiff or attorney at the address as shown on the Complaint. The answer must contain a denial of any or all of the material facts stated in the Complaint that the Defendant believes to be untrue, and also a statement, in plain or direct manner, of any other facts constituting a defense. Any matter not denied shall be deemed admitted. If you fail to answer or assert a counterclaim within twenty (20) days after service of the Complaint and Summons, the Plaintiff may request entry of default judgment against you for the relief demanded in the Complaint. GIVEN under my hand this _____ day of ____________, 20_. _________________________________ JUDGE/CLERK OF COURT

History: En. Sup. Ct. Ord. February 9, 1990, eff. June 1, 1990; amd. Sup. Ct. Ord. June 24, 1997, eff. Oct. 1, 1997; amd. Sup. Ct. Ord. Feb. 26, 2002, eff. Feb. 26, 2002.

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