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How to Give Notice of Your Small Claims Suit via Conspicuous Service

Conspicuous service, otherwise known as affix and mail or nail and mail service, occurs when the small claims process server cannot find the defendant at the defendant’s home after making several attempts to deliver the pleadings.

These attempts generally have to be made at various hours of the day and night. After making several attempts — most states require three or more — the process server can then affix a copy of the pleadings to the door and mail an additional copy to the defendant. The additional copy is mailed because there wasn’t personal delivery to the named defendant.

Affixing means with tape. You can’t take out a nail and hammer and attach the complaint to the door, the doorframe, or the like. Using a nail isn’t a good idea — especially if it’s a glass door. Putting the pleadings in the mailbox is also a no-no.

If a doorperson at an apartment house won’t let the process server even come inside the building, in most states, the process server can tape the summons and complaint to the front door of the building.

Although this is not as an effective method of giving notice as personal delivery or substituted service — after all, a tornado can come and remove the papers or perhaps a young person conducting a paper drive may take it — it does give you the psychic lift of knowing that all of the defendant’s neighbors now know she’s being sued.

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