PA 10-178—HB 5527

Judiciary Committee

AN ACT CONCERNING STATE MARSHALS

SUMMARY: This act makes a number of changes regarding service of process. It:

1. adds an additional means of serving process on a limited liability company (LLC);

2. (a) allows an officer of any precinct to serve process on the secretary of the state or Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) commissioner when service on that official is permitted by any law, rather than just under specific laws; (b) allows an officer of any precinct to serve the attorney general or insurance commissioner with any process permitted by law to be served on them; and (c) makes service on any of these state officials the start of service in the officer's precinct and the officer can then complete service outside his or her precinct as allowed by law;

3. allows a state marshal of any precinct to serve anyone confined in a state correctional institution or community correctional center;

4. requires a lawsuit against a state marshal for neglect or default of office or duty to be brought within two years after the right of action accrues (other statutes provide general statutes of limitations such as two years for negligence and three years for an oral contract); and

5. provides that a cause of action is not lost by missing a statute of limitations if the process to be served is personally delivered to a constable or other proper officer within the required time frame and the process is served within 30 days of delivery.

The act also requires a party other than the state who summons a witness to testify in any action or proceeding to pay the witness on the day he or she attends.

EFFECTIVE DATE: October 1, 2010

1 — SERVICE OF PROCESS ON LLC

The law allows a proper officer or anyone empowered to make service to serve process on an LLC by serving (1) its statutory agent or (2) the secretary of the state's office and mailing a copy to the LLC's principal office, if the secretary's records show that there is no statutory agent or the agent cannot be found with reasonable diligence at the address in the records.

The act also allows service on any manager or member vested with management of an LLC. Service can be made by leaving a copy with the person, at the member's usual place of abode in the state, or at the manager's usual place of abode in the state if the manager is a natural person.

2 — SERVICE OUTSIDE OF PRECINCT AND SERVICE ON CERTAIN STATE OFFICIALS

Generally, the law allows state marshals and other proper officers to serve process in their precincts (a state marshal's precinct is the county for which he or she is appointed). But they may serve process outside their precincts in certain circumstances, such as when an action involves more than one defendant and the officer begins by serving process on a defendant who resides in his or her precinct.

The law allows an officer of any precinct to serve process on the secretary of the state or DMV commissioner when those officials can be served on behalf of a:

1. voluntary association when no officers are state residents or partnership when no partners are state residents;

2. nonresident individual, foreign partnership, foreign voluntary association, or executor or administrator for one of them under certain circumstances that allow the courts to exercise jurisdiction;

3. nonresident in an action for negligent operation of a motor vehicle; or

4. motor vehicle operator or owner in an action for negligently operating a motor vehicle if the person cannot be found after making diligent effort.

The act allows an officer of any precinct to serve the secretary or DMV commissioner as permitted by any other law as well. It also allows an officer of any precinct to serve any process permitted by law to be served on the attorney general or insurance commissioner.

The act makes service on one of these officials the start of service within the officer's precinct and the officer can then complete service outside his or her precinct as allowed by law.

3 — LAWSUITS AGAINST STATE MARSHALS

The act requires a lawsuit against a state marshal for neglect or default of his or her office or duty to be brought within two years after the right of action accrues. Under prior law, this applied to sheriffs, deputy sheriffs, and constables. The act repeals the provision for deputy sheriffs. The positions of sheriff and deputy sheriff were eliminated in 2000 and state marshals took over their service of process functions.

4 — STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS AND SERVICE OF PROCESS

By law, a cause of action is not lost by missing a statute of limitations if the process is personally delivered to a state marshal and the process is served within 30 days of delivery. The act extends this provision to service of process by constables and other proper officers. These officers are also authorized by statute to serve process. The act also codifies a recent Connecticut Supreme Court ruling by specifying that these officers must receive the process within the required statute of limitations (see BACKGROUND).

BACKGROUND

Witness Fees

By law, witnesses receive the following fees:

1. 50 cents per day for attending court and the same per-mile rate for travel to the place of trial as is paid to state employees for travel;

2. $100 plus mileage (taxable as part of costs) for police officers and firefighters summoned in a criminal or civil proceeding if they are not compensated by their employers for the time;

3. an extra $2 for each day that a material witness in a pending criminal proceeding is confined;

4. a reasonable fee determined by the court (taxable as costs) for practitioners of the healing arts, dentists, registered nurses, advanced practice nurses, licensed practical nurses, psychologists, and real estate appraisers who give expert testimony, including by deposition; and

5. a reasonable fee determined by the court and paid by a party who subpoenas a licensed public accountant to testify in any action or proceeding.

Related Cases—Statute of Limitations and Service of Process

In 2008, a Superior Court judge noted that the statute that preserves lawsuits if the process is delivered to a state marshal within the required time frame to file the action was one of many statutes amended to give state marshals, instead of sheriffs, the power to serve process. This particular statute was amended to replace the broader term “officer,” which would have included constables and other proper officers authorized to serve process, with “state marshal. ” The judge concluded that the amendment was not intended to exclude process served by constables and a proper interpretation of the statute allowed it to apply to process given to a constable (Abitz v. Fierer, 44 CLR 820 (January 15, 2008)).

In another case under this statute, the Connecticut Supreme Court ruled that the process must be delivered to the state marshal before the statute of limitations expires, even though this requirement was not expressly stated in the statute. The court found that to rule otherwise would produce an absurd result and allow a party to bring an action at any time by delivering process for a state marshal to serve within 30 days. The court stated that such an interpretation would be contrary to the intent behind the statute and frustrate the purpose of the statutes of limitation (Tayco Corp. v. Planning and Zoning Commission, 294 Conn. 673 (2010)).

Related Act

PA 10-36 contains the same provision on preserving lawsuits when process is delivered within the required time frame to a proper officer.

OLR Tracking: CR: sp: pf: df