2015 Oklahoma Statutes
Title 12. Civil Procedure
§12-2004. Process.

12 OK Stat § 12-2004 (2015) What's This?

PROCESS

A. SUMMONS: ISSUANCE. Upon filing of the petition, the clerk shall forthwith issue a summons. Upon request of the plaintiff separate or additional summons shall issue against any defendants.

B. SUMMONS: FORM.

1. The summons shall be signed by the clerk, be under the seal of the court, contain the name of the court 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 the time within which these rules require the defendant to appear and defend, and shall notify the defendant that in case of failure to appear, judgment by default will be rendered against the defendant for the relief demanded in the petition.

2. A judgment by default shall not be different in kind from or exceed in amount that prayed for in either the demand for judgment or in cases not sounding in contract in a notice which has been given the party against whom default judgment is sought. Except as to a party against whom a judgment is entered by default, every final judgment shall grant the relief to which the party in whose favor it is rendered is entitled, even if the party has not demanded such relief in his or her pleadings.

C. BY WHOM SERVED: PERSON TO BE SERVED.

1. SERVICE BY PERSONAL DELIVERY.

a.At the election of the plaintiff, process, other than a subpoena, shall be served by a sheriff or deputy sheriff, a person licensed to make service of process in civil cases, or a person specially appointed for that purpose. The court shall freely make special appointments to serve all process, other than a subpoena, under this paragraph.

b.A summons to be served by the sheriff or deputy sheriff shall be delivered to the sheriff by the court clerk or an attorney of record for the plaintiff. When a summons, subpoena, or other process is to be served by the sheriff or deputy sheriff of another county, the court clerk shall mail it, together with the voucher of the court clerk for the fees collected for the service, to the sheriff of that county. The sheriff shall deposit the voucher in the Sheriff's Service Fee Account created pursuant to Section 514.1 of Title 19 of the Oklahoma Statutes. The sheriff or deputy sheriff shall serve the process in the manner that other process issued out of the court of the sheriff's own county is served. A summons to be served by a person licensed to make service of process in civil cases or by a person specially appointed for that purpose shall be delivered by an attorney of record for the plaintiff to such person.

c.Service shall be made as follows:

(1)upon an individual other than an infant who is less than fifteen (15) years of age or an incompetent person, by delivering a copy of the summons and of the petition personally or by leaving copies thereof at the person's dwelling house or usual place of abode with some person then residing therein who is fifteen (15) years of age or older or by delivering a copy of the summons and of the petition to an agent authorized by appointment or by law to receive service of process,

(2)upon an infant who is less than fifteen (15) years of age, by serving the summons and petition personally and upon either of the infant's parents or guardian, or if they cannot be found, then upon the person having the care or control of the infant or with whom the infant lives; and upon an incompetent person by serving the summons and petition personally and upon the incompetent person's guardian,

(3)upon a domestic or foreign corporation or upon a partnership or other unincorporated association which is subject to suit under a common name, by delivering a copy of the summons and of the petition to an officer, a managing or general agent, or to any other agent authorized by appointment or by law to receive service of process and, if the agent is one authorized by statute to receive service and the statute so requires, by also mailing a copy to the defendant,

(4)upon the United States or an officer or agency thereof in the manner specified by Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 4,

(5)upon a state, county, school district, public trust or municipal corporation or other governmental organization thereof subject to suit, by delivering a copy of the summons and of the petition to the officer or individual designated by specific statute; however, if there is no statute, then upon the chief executive officer or a clerk, secretary, or other official whose duty it is to maintain the official records of the organization, and

(6)upon an inmate incarcerated in an institution under the jurisdiction and control of the Department of Corrections, by delivering a copy of the summons and of the petition to the warden or superintendent or the designee of the warden or superintendent of the institution where the inmate is housed. It shall be the duty of the receiving warden or superintendent or a designee to promptly deliver the summons and petition to the inmate named therein. The warden or superintendent or his or her designee shall reject service of process for any inmate who is not actually present in said institution.

2. SERVICE BY MAIL.

a.At the election of the plaintiff, a summons and petition may be served by mail by the plaintiff's attorney, any person authorized to serve process pursuant to subparagraph a of paragraph 1 of this subsection, or by the court clerk upon a defendant of any class referred to in division (1), (3) or (5) of subparagraph c of paragraph 1 of this subsection. Service by mail shall be effective on the date of receipt or if refused, on the date of refusal of the summons and petition by the defendant.

b.Service by mail shall be accomplished by mailing a copy of the summons and petition by certified mail, return receipt requested and delivery restricted to the addressee. When there is more than one defendant, the summons and a copy of the petition or order shall be mailed in a separate envelope to each defendant. If the summons is to be served by mail by the court clerk, the court clerk shall enclose the summons and a copy of the petition or order of the court to be served in an envelope, prepared by the plaintiff, addressed to the defendant, or to the resident service agent if one has been appointed. The court clerk shall prepay the postage and mail the envelope to the defendant, or service agent, by certified mail, return receipt requested and delivery restricted to the addressee. The return receipt shall be prepared by the plaintiff. Service by mail to a garnishee shall be accomplished by mailing a copy of the summons and notice by certified mail, return receipt requested, and at the election of the judgment creditor by restricted delivery, to the addressee.

c.Service by mail shall not be the basis for the entry of a default or a judgment by default unless the record contains a return receipt showing acceptance by the defendant or a returned envelope showing refusal of the process by the defendant. Acceptance or refusal of service by mail by a person who is fifteen (15) years of age or older who resides at the defendant's dwelling house or usual place of abode shall constitute acceptance or refusal by the party addressed. In the case of an entity described in division (3) of subparagraph c of paragraph 1 of this subsection, acceptance or refusal by any officer or by any employee of the registered office or principal place of business who is authorized to or who regularly receives certified mail shall constitute acceptance or refusal by the party addressed. A return receipt signed at such registered office or principal place of business shall be presumed to have been signed by an employee authorized to receive certified mail. In the case of a state municipal corporation, or other governmental organization thereof subject to suit, acceptance or refusal by an employee of the office of the officials specified in division (5) of subparagraph c of paragraph 1 of this subsection who is authorized to or who regularly receives certified mail shall constitute acceptance or refusal by the party addressed. If delivery of the process is refused, upon the receipt of notice of such refusal and at least ten (10) days before applying for entry of default, the person elected by plaintiff pursuant to subparagraph a of this paragraph to serve the process shall mail to the defendant by first-class mail a copy of the summons and petition and a notice prepared by the plaintiff that despite such refusal the case will proceed and that judgment by default will be rendered against him unless he appears to defend the suit. Any default or judgment by default shall be set aside upon motion of the defendant in the manner prescribed in Section 1031.1 of this title, or upon petition of the defendant in the manner prescribed in Section 1033 of this title if the defendant demonstrates to the court that the return receipt was signed or delivery was refused by an unauthorized person. A petition shall be filed within one (1) year after the defendant has notice of the default or judgment by default but in no event more than two (2) years after the filing of the judgment.

3. SERVICE BY PUBLICATION.

a.Service of summons upon a named defendant may be made by publication when it is stated in the petition, verified by the plaintiff or the plaintiff's attorney, or in a separate affidavit by the plaintiff or the plaintiff's attorney filed with the court, that with due diligence service cannot be made upon the defendant by any other method.

b.Service of summons upon the unknown successors of a named defendant, a named decedent, or a dissolved partnership, corporation, or other association may be made by publication when it is stated in a petition, verified by the plaintiff or the plaintiff's attorney, or in a separate affidavit by the plaintiff or the plaintiff's attorney filed with the court, that the person who verified the petition or the affidavit does not know and with due diligence cannot ascertain the following:

(1)whether a person named as defendant is living or dead, and, if dead, the names or whereabouts of the person's successors, if any,

(2)the names or whereabouts of the unknown successors, if any, of a named decedent,

(3)whether a partnership, corporation, or other association named as a defendant continues to have legal existence or not; or the names or whereabouts of its officers or successors,

(4)whether any person designated in a record as a trustee continues to be the trustee; or the names or whereabouts of the successors of the trustee, or

(5)the names or whereabouts of the owners or holders of special assessment or improvement bonds, or any other bonds, sewer warrants or tax bills.

c.Service pursuant to this paragraph shall be made by publication of a notice, signed by the court clerk, one (1) day a week for three (3) consecutive weeks in a newspaper authorized by law to publish legal notices which is published in the county where the petition is filed. If no newspaper authorized by law to publish legal notices is published in such county, the notice shall be published in some such newspaper of general circulation which is published in an adjoining county. All named parties and their unknown successors who may be served by publication may be included in one notice. The notice shall state the court in which the petition is filed and the names of the plaintiff and the parties served by publication, and shall designate the parties whose unknown successors are being served. The notice shall also state that the named defendants and their unknown successors have been sued and must answer the petition on or before a time to be stated (which shall not be less than forty-one (41) days from the date of the first publication), or judgment, the nature of which shall be stated, will be rendered accordingly. If jurisdiction of the court is based on property, any real property subject to the jurisdiction of the court and any property or debts to be attached or garnished must be described in the notice.

(1)When the recovery of money is sought, it is not necessary for the publication notice to state the separate items involved, but the total amount that is claimed must be stated. When interest is claimed, it is not necessary to state the rate of interest, the date from which interest is claimed, or that interest is claimed until the obligation is paid.

(2)It is not necessary for the publication notice to state that the judgment will include recovery of costs in order for a judgment following the publication notice to include costs of suit.

(3)In an action to quiet title to real property, it is not necessary for the publication notice to state the nature of the claim or interest of either party, and in describing the nature of the judgment that will be rendered should the defendant fail to answer, it is sufficient to state that a decree quieting plaintiff's title to the described property will be entered. It is not necessary to state that a decree forever barring the defendant from asserting any interest in or to the property is sought or will be entered if the defendant does not answer.

(4)In an action to foreclose a mortgage, it is sufficient that the publication notice state that if the defendant does not answer, the defendant's interest in the property will be foreclosed. It is not necessary to state that a judgment forever barring the defendant from all right, title, interest, estate, property and equity of redemption in or to said property or any part thereof is requested or will be entered if the defendant does not answer.

d.Service by publication is complete when made in the manner and for the time prescribed in subparagraph c of this paragraph. Service by publication shall be proved by the affidavit of any person having knowledge of the publication. No default judgment may be entered on such service until proof of service by publication is filed with and approved by the court.

e.Before entry of a default judgment or order against a party who has been served solely by publication under this paragraph, the court shall conduct an inquiry to determine whether the plaintiff, or someone acting in behalf of the plaintiff, made a distinct and meaningful search of all reasonably available sources to ascertain the whereabouts of any named parties who have been served solely by publication under this paragraph. Before entry of a default judgment or order against the unknown successors of a named defendant, a named decedent, or a dissolved partnership, corporation or association, the court shall conduct an inquiry to ascertain whether the requirements described in subparagraph b of this paragraph have been satisfied.

f.A party against whom a default judgment or order has been rendered, without other service than by publication in a newspaper, may, at any time within three (3) years after the filing of the judgment or order, have the judgment or order set aside in the manner prescribed in Sections 1031.1 and 1033 of this title. Before the judgment or order is set aside, the applicant shall notify the adverse party of the intention to make an application and shall file a full answer to the petition, pay all costs if the court requires them to be paid, and satisfy the court by affidavit or other evidence that during the pendency of the action the applicant had no actual notice thereof in time to appear in court and make a defense. The title to any property which is the subject of and which passes to a purchaser in good faith by or in consequence of the judgment or order to be opened shall not be affected by any proceedings under this subparagraph. Nor shall proceedings under this subparagraph affect the title of any property sold before judgment under an attachment. The adverse party, on the hearing of an application to open a judgment or order as provided by this subparagraph, shall be allowed to present evidence to show that during the pendency of the action the applicant had notice thereof in time to appear in court and make a defense.

g.The term "successors" includes all heirs, executors, administrators, devisees, trustees, and assigns, immediate and remote, of a named individual, partnership, corporation, or association.

h.Service outside of the state does not give the court in personal jurisdiction over a defendant who is not subject to the jurisdiction of the courts of this state or who has not, either in person or through an agent, submitted to the jurisdiction of the courts of this state.

4. SERVICE ON THE SECRETARY OF STATE.

a.Service of process on a domestic or foreign corporation may be made by serving the Secretary of State as the corporation's agent, if:

(1)there is no registered agent for the corporation listed in the records of the Secretary of State; or

(2)neither the registered agent nor an officer of the corporation could be found at the registered office of the corporation, when service of process was attempted.

b.Before resorting to service on the Secretary of State the plaintiff must have attempted service either in person or by mail on the corporation at:

(1)the corporation's last-known address shown on the records of the Franchise Tax Division of the Oklahoma Tax Commission, if any is listed there; and

(2)the corporation's last-known address shown on the records of the Secretary of State, if any is listed there; and

(3)the corporation's last address known to the plaintiff.

If any of these addresses are the same, the plaintiff is not required to attempt service more than once at any address. The plaintiff shall furnish the Secretary of State with a certified copy of the return or returns showing the attempted service.

c.Service on the Secretary of State shall be made by filing two (2) copies of the summons and petition with the Secretary of State, notifying the Secretary of State that service is being made pursuant to the provisions of this paragraph, and paying the Secretary of State the fee prescribed in paragraph 7 of subsection A of Section 1142 of Title 18 of the Oklahoma Statutes, which fee shall be taxed as part of the costs of the action, suit or proceeding if the plaintiff shall prevail therein. If a registered agent for the corporation is listed in the records of the Secretary of State, the plaintiff must also furnish a certified copy of the return showing that service on the registered agent has been attempted either in person or by mail, and that neither the registered agent nor an officer of the corporation could be found at the registered office of the corporation.

d.Within three (3) working days after receiving the summons and petition, the Secretary of State shall send notice by letter, certified mail, return receipt requested, directed to the corporation at its registered office or the last-known address found in the office of the Secretary of State, or if no address is found there, to the corporation's last-known address provided by the plaintiff. The notice shall enclose a copy of the summons and petition and any other papers served upon the Secretary of State. The corporation shall not be required to serve its answer until forty (40) days after service of the summons and petition on the Secretary of State.

e.Before entry of a default judgment or order against a corporation that has been served by serving the Secretary of State as its agent under this paragraph, the court shall determine whether the requirements of this paragraph have been satisfied. A default judgment or order against a corporation that has been served only by service on the Secretary of State may be set aside upon motion of the corporation in the manner prescribed in Section 1031.1 of this title, or upon petition of the corporation in the manner prescribed in Section 1033 of this title, if the corporation demonstrates to the court that it had no actual notice of the action in time to appear and make its defense. A petition shall be filed within one (1) year after the corporation has notice of the default judgment or order but in no event more than two (2) years after the filing of the default judgment or order.

f.The Secretary of State shall maintain an alphabetical record of service setting forth the name of the plaintiff and defendant, the title, docket number, and nature of the proceeding in which the process has been served upon the defendant, the fact that service has been effected pursuant to the provisions of this paragraph, the return date thereof, and the date when the service was made. The Secretary of State shall not be required to retain this information for a period longer than five (5) years from receipt of the service of process.

g.The provisions of this paragraph shall not apply to a foreign insurance company doing business in this state.

5. SERVICE BY ACKNOWLEDGMENT. An acknowledgment on the back of the summons or the voluntary appearance of a defendant is equivalent to service.

6. SERVICE BY OTHER METHODS. If service cannot be made by personal delivery or by mail, a defendant of any class referred to in division (1) or (3) of subparagraph c of paragraph 1 of this subsection may be served as provided by court order in any manner which is reasonably calculated to give the defendant actual notice of the proceedings and an opportunity to be heard.

7. NO SERVICE BY PRISONER. No prisoner in any jail, Department of Corrections facility, private prison, or parolee or probationer under supervision of the Department of Corrections shall be appointed by any court to serve process on any defendant, party or witness.

D. SUMMONS AND PETITION. The summons and petition shall be served together. The plaintiff shall furnish the person making service with such copies as are necessary. The failure to serve a copy of the petition with the summons is not a ground for dismissal for insufficiency of service of process, but on motion of the party served, the court may extend the time to answer or otherwise plead. If a summons and petition are served by personal delivery, the person serving the summons shall state on the copy that is left with the person served the date that service is made. This provision is not jurisdictional, but if the failure to comply with it prejudices the party served, the court, on motion of the party served, may extend the time to answer or otherwise plead.

E. SUMMONS: TERRITORIAL LIMITS OF EFFECTIVE SERVICE.

1. Service of the summons and petition may be made anywhere within this state in the manner provided by subsection C of this section.

2. When the exercise of jurisdiction is authorized by subsection F of this section, service of the summons and petition may be made outside this state:

a.by personal delivery in the manner prescribed for service within this state,

b.in the manner prescribed by the law of the place in which the service is made for service in that place in an action in any of its courts of general jurisdiction,

c.in the manner prescribed by paragraph 2 of subsection C of this section,

d.as directed by the foreign authority in response to a letter rogatory,

e.in the manner prescribed by paragraph 3 of subsection C of this section only when permitted by subparagraphs a and b of paragraph 3 of subsection C of this section, or

f.as directed by the court.

3. Proof of service outside this state may be made in the manner prescribed by subsection G of this section, the order pursuant to which the service is made, or the law of the place in which the service is made for proof of service in an action in any of its courts of general jurisdiction.

4. Service outside this state may be made by an individual permitted to make service of process under the law of this state or under the law of the place in which the service is made or who is designated to make service by a court of this state.

5. When subsection C of this section requires that in order to effect service one or more designated individuals be served, service outside this state under this section must be made upon the designated individual or individuals.

6.a.A court of this state may order service upon any person who is domiciled or can be found within this state of any document issued in connection with a proceeding in a tribunal outside this state. The order may be made upon application of any interested person or in response to a letter rogatory issued by a tribunal outside this state and shall direct the manner of service.

b.Service in connection with a proceeding in a tribunal outside this state may be made within this state without an order of court.

d.Service under this paragraph does not, of itself, require the recognition or enforcement of an order, judgment, or decree rendered outside this state.

F. ASSERTION OF JURISDICTION. A court of this state may exercise jurisdiction on any basis consistent with the Constitution of this state and the Constitution of the United States.

G. RETURN.

1. The person serving the process shall make proof of service thereof to the court promptly and in any event within the time during which the person served must respond to the process, but the failure to make proof of service does not affect the validity of the service.

2. When process has been served by a sheriff or deputy sheriff and return thereof is filed in the office of the court clerk, a copy of the return shall be sent by the court clerk to the plaintiff's attorney within three (3) days after the return is filed. If service is made by a person other than a sheriff or deputy sheriff, the licensed process server shall make affidavit thereof. The return shall set forth the county of issuance, the name of the person served and the date, place, and method of service.

3. If service was by mail, the person mailing the summons and petition shall endorse on the copy of the summons or order of the court that is filed in the action the date and place of mailing and the date when service was receipted or service was rejected, and shall attach to the copy of the summons or order a copy of the return receipt or returned envelope, if and when received, showing whether the mailing was accepted, refused, or otherwise returned. If the mailing was refused, the return shall also show the date and place of any subsequent mailing pursuant to paragraph 2 of subsection C of this section. When the summons and petition are mailed by the court clerk, the court clerk shall notify the plaintiff's attorney within three (3) days after receipt of the returned card or envelope showing that the card or envelope has been received.

H. 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.

I. SUMMONS: TIME LIMIT FOR SERVICE. If service of process is not made upon a defendant within one hundred eighty (180) days after the filing of the petition and the plaintiff cannot show good cause why such service was not made within that period, the action shall be deemed dismissed as to that defendant without prejudice. The action shall not be dismissed if a summons was served on the defendant within one hundred eighty (180) days after the filing of the petition and a court later holds that the summons or its service was invalid. After a court quashes a summons or its service, a new summons may be served on the defendant within a time specified by the judge. If the new summons is not served within the specified time, the action shall be deemed to have been dismissed without prejudice as to that defendant. This subsection shall not apply with respect to a defendant who has been outside of this state for one hundred eighty (180) days following the filing of the petition.

Added by Laws 1984, c. 164, § 4, eff. Nov. 1, 1984. Amended by Laws 1985, c. 277, § 3, eff. Nov. 1, 1985; Laws 1986, c. 206, § 2, operative July 1, 1986; Laws 1987, c. 123, § 2, eff. Nov. 1, 1987; Laws 1988, c. 181, § 1, eff. Nov. 1, 1988; Laws 1989, c. 208, § 1, eff. Nov. 1, 1989; Laws 1990, c. 248, § 8, emerg. eff. May 21, 1990; Laws 1991, c. 101, § 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1991; Laws 1996, c. 339, § 4, eff. Nov. 1, 1996; Laws 1999, c. 293, § 18, eff. Nov. 1, 1999; Laws 2002, c. 402, § 7, eff. July 1, 2002; Laws 2012, c. 101, § 2, eff. Jan. 1, 2013; Laws 2013, 1st Ex.Sess., c. 13, § 8; Laws 2013, 1st Ex.Sess., c. 13, § 9.

NOTE: Laws 2009, c. 228, § 11 was held unconstitutional by the Oklahoma Supreme Court in the case of Douglas v. Cox Retirement Properties, Inc., 2013 OK 37, 302 P.2d 789 (Okla. 2013) and repealed by Laws 2013, 1st Ex.Sess., c. 13, § 7.

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