Warner Bros. Records Inc. v. Berry, No. 07 Civ. 1092-HB, 4/15/08 N.Y.L.J. "Decision of Interest" (S.D.N.Y. decided Apr. 9, 2008).
The court adopted Magistrate Judge's recommendation to deny Plaintiff's default judgment application and dismissed the case.
Plaintiff's alleged that Defendant used KaZaA to download, distribute and make available for distribution the copyrighted recordings of certain artists in violation of the Copyright Act. Over a year before filing the complaint, Plaintiffs served AOL (an ISP), which identified Defendant as the person responsible for the IP address that was using KaZaA. AOL provided Plaintiff's with an address for Defendant in the Bronx, NY. Plaintiffs then hired a process server, whose attempts at service were "unsuccessful"; thereafter, the process server affixed one copy on the property in the Bronx. and depositing a copy of the summons in a first class post paid envelope addressed to the same address.
However, the Court found that service on Defendant was defective and therefore dismissed the complaint. "Here, service was defective under the 'nail and mail' method [CPLR 308(4)] because Plaintiffs' process server both affixed and mailed the summons to Defendant's last known residence."
Though the mailing component of service by "affixing and mailing" may be to the defendant's last known residence, "the 'affixing' component must be to the door of the defendant's actual place of business, dwelling place or usual place of abode, and not to the defendant's last known residence. To blur the distinction between 'last known residence' and 'dwelling place' 'would diminish the likelihood that actual notice will be received by potential defendants.'"
However, the Court did not adopt the Magistrate Judge's recommendation that Plaintiffs be ordered to show cause they they did not violate FRCP 11(b). The Court found that "while Plaintiffs' lawyers should be faulted for failing to keep closer tabs on their process server and for failing to better supervise their paralegal, their actions do not rise to the level of a Rule 11(b) violation. Plaintiffs' lawyers might have been sloppy in their attempts to serve Defendant, but giving them as officers of the Court the benefit of the doubt, all their representations to this Court were...nor for the improper purpose of unnecessary delay."