On Monday, October 20, 2008, the Ohio Supreme Court's Commission on the Rules of Practice and Procedure published its annual recommendations to the Ohio Supreme Court for amendments to Ohio's Rules of Appellate Procedure, Rules of Civil Procedure, Rules of Criminal Procedure, and Rules of Juvenile Procedure.
The proposed amendments to Ohio's Rules of Civil Procedure include notable changes to the procedure of perfecting civil service. The most important changes require a plaintiff in a civil action to shoulder some of the administrative responsibility for effecting service of process.
The specific changes to Civil Rules 4 through 4.6, governing service of process, include the following:
- The clerk will issue the summons to the plaintiff rather than the defendant. See Proposed Civ. R. 4(A).
- After receiving the summons from the clerk, the plaintiff is responsible for taking on the administrative task of serving the defendant by certified or express mail. See Proposed rule 4.1(A).
- When the plaintiff receives the signed returned receipt indicating service by certified or express mail, the plaintiff must file the return receipt with the clerk. See Proposed Civ. R. 4.1(A).
- The serving party will have the opportunity to present proof of postage paid to the clerk in order for the amounts paid to be charged to costs. See Proposed Civ. R. 4.1(A).
- Service by certified or express mail is complete upon the date the return receipt was signed if the plaintiff files proof of service before the answer day. Otherwise, service is deemed complete upon the date in which the plaintiff files the proof of service. See Proposed Civ. R. 4.1(A).
- Personal and residence service remain sufficient methods of perfecting service, and continue to be the duty of the sheriff, bailiff, or duly appointed adult. See Proposed Civ. R. 4.1(B) & (C).
- A provision is added to govern service on limited liability companies. See Proposed Civ. R. 4.2(G).
- The new rules governing service in-state will also apply to out of state parties. See Proposed Civ. R. 4.3.
- Current Civ. R. 4.6(C) governs service by ordinary mail in the event service by certified mail or express mail is refused. Proposed Civ. R. 4.6(C) clarifies that the rule applies to service within state and outside of the state.
- The provision for service by ordinary mail (Current Civ. R. 4.6(D)) if certified mail is "unclaimed" is removed.
The majority of the amendments to the rules regarding service are meant to address the substantial amount of time and effort spent by the clerks of courts to effect service. The full text of the proposed amendments can be found on the Ohio Supreme Court website.
The Ohio Supreme Court will accept public comments regarding all of the amendments until November 18, 2008.