What If You Are Unable to Serve a Defendant or Another Party In a Lawsuit?


Obtaining proper service on a defendant is paramount to initiating a lawsuit, and often times can be more of a challenge than one would think. If the sheriff in the county in which the defendant is located is unable to serve a defendant, one can file a motion for a special process server. A special process server is a hired to serve legal documents on a defendant or another person or entity involved in a court case. Depending on the specific special process server, they will attempt to serve the defendants multiple times based on the information accessible to them.


However, sometimes even a special process server cannot obtain service on a defendant. What are a plaintiff’s options if this occurs? In Illinois, one can then file a motion for service of a defendant by special order of the court pursuant to Section 2-203.1 of the Illinois Code of Civil Procedure (735 ILCS 5/2 203.1). Section 2-203.1 permits service in a different manner if it is consistent with due process, the plaintiff can show that he has performed a “diligent inquiry as to the location of the defendant,” and that “reasonable efforts to make service have been unsuccessful.” See Section 2-203.1.

Determining whether or not a plaintiff conducted a diligent inquiry as to the defendant’s whereabouts is a case by case determination that can often times be highly technical, but it is an essential consideration when filing a motion pursuant Section 2-203.1. Thus, if you or someone you know is experiencing difficulties with obtaining service on an individual or a corporation, contact the law firm of Ball & McCann, P.C. to ensure no mistakes are made, and proper service is obtained.

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