Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Duty To Warn Process Server

A process server who was hired by a law firm to serve the defendant in a divorce case was violently attacked by the servee. The law firm had attached to the process the following warning: "Be forewarned he's an ex-cop with anger issues." The process server read the papers but saw nothing to indicate that the defendant was violent or dangerous. When he accomplished service, he was "severely beaten" by the defendant.

The process server sued the law firm on theories of intentional infliction of emotional distress/outrageous conduct, negligent misrepresentation and negligence. The trial court dismissed the action.

The Tennessee Court of Appeals affirmed the dismissal save for the negligence claim, which was remanded for further proceedings. The process server had alleged that three orders of protection had been entered one week before the assault and that a law firm attorney was counsel in 14 cases against the defendant. The plaintiff's averment that the attorney knew or should have known that an attack was reasonably foreseeable under the circumstances was sufficient to state a claim. (Mike Frisch)

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