RULE 4. PERSONS SUBJECT TO JURISDICTION--
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(d) Personal Service.
(1) By Whom Process Served. Service of all process may be made: within the state by any person of legal age not a party to nor interested in the action; and outside the state by any person who may make service under the law of this state or under the law of the place in which service is made or who is designated by a court of this state.
(2) How Service Made Within the State. Personal service of process within the state must be made as follows:
(A) upon an individual 14 or more years of age by (i) delivering a copy of the summons to the individual personally; (ii) leaving a copy of the summons at the individual's dwelling house or usual place of abode in the presence of a person of suitable age and discretion then residing therein; (iii) delivering, at the office of the process server, a copy of the summons to the individual's spouse if the spouses reside together; (iv) delivering a copy of the summons to the individual's agent authorized by appointment or by law to receive service of process; or (v) any form of mail or third-party commercial delivery addressed to the individual to be served and requiring a signed receipt and resulting in delivery to that individual;
(B) upon an individual under the age of 14 years, by delivering a copy of the summons to the individual's guardian, if the individual has one within the state, and, if not, then to the individual's father or mother or any person or agency having the individual's care or control, or with whom the individual resides. If service cannot be made upon any of them, then as directed by order of the court;
(C) upon an individual who has been judicially adjudged incompetent or for whom a guardian of the individual's person or estate has been appointed in this state, by delivering a copy of the summons to the individual's guardian. If a general guardian and a guardian ad litem have been appointed, both must be served;
(D) upon a domestic or foreign corporation or upon a partnership or other unincorporated association, by (i) delivering a copy of the summons to an officer, director, superintendent or managing or general agent, or partner, or associate, or to an agent authorized by appointment or by law to receive service of process in its behalf, or to one who acted as an agent for the defendant with respect to the matter upon which the claim of the plaintiff is based and who was an agent of the defendant at the time of service; (ii) if the sheriff's return indicates no person upon whom service may be made can be found in the county, then service may be made by leaving a copy of the summons at any office of the domestic or foreign corporation, partnership or unincorporated association within this state with the person in charge of the office; or (iii) any form of mail or third-party commercial delivery addressed to any of the foregoing persons and requiring a signed receipt and resulting in delivery to that person;
(E) upon a city, township, school district, park district, county, or any other municipal or public corporation, by delivering a copy of the summons to
its chief executive or chief administrative officer or any member of its governing board;
(F) upon the state, by delivering a copy of the summons to the governor or attorney general or an assistant attorney general and, upon an agency of the state, such as the Bank of North Dakota or the State Mill and Elevator Association, by delivering a copy of the summons to the managing head of the agency or to the attorney general or an assistant attorney general; or
(G) if service is made upon an agent who is not expressly authorized by appointment or by law to receive service of process on behalf of the defendant, a copy of the summons and complaint must be mailed or delivered via a third-party commercial carrier to the defendant with return receipt requested not later than ten days after service by depositing the same, with postage or shipping prepaid, in a post office or with a commercial carrier in this state and directed to the defendant to be served at the defendant's last reasonably ascertainable address.
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Rule 4 was amended, effective 1971; January 1, 1976; January 1, 1977; January 1, 1979; September 1, 1983; March 1, 1986; March 1, 1990; March 1, 1996; March 1, 1998; March 1, 1999; ____________________.
Rule 4 governs civil jurisdiction and service of process. In contrast, Rule 5 applies to service of papers other than process.
Rule 4 was amended, effective March 1, 1999, to allow delivery via a third-party commercial carrier as an alternative to the Postal Service. The requirement for a "third-party" is consistent with the rule's requirement for personal service by a person not a party to nor interested in the action. The requirement for a "commercial carrier" means it must be the regular business of the carrier to make deliveries for profit. A law firm may not act as its own commercial carrier service for service of process. Finally, the phrase "commercial carrier" is not intended to include or authorize electronic delivery. Service via e-mail or facsimile transmission is not permitted by Rule 4.
Originally, Rule 4 concerned process, with no mention of jurisdiction. In 1971, what are now subdivisions (a) [Definition of Person] and (b) [Jurisdiction Over Person] were added. They were taken from the Uniform Interstate and International Procedure Act. Many changes were also made to subdivision (d) [previously (c)] concerning personal service, several of which were taken from that Act.
Subdivision (c) was amended, effective March 1, 1998, to provide a defendant with the means to compel the plaintiff to file the action.
Subdivision (d)(2)(A) was amended, effective March 1, 1998, to allow personal service by delivering a copy of the summons to an individual's spouse.
Subdivision (d)(2)(E) was amended, effective ________________, to expand the category of persons available for achieving service upon a governmental entity.
A problem may arise with service by mail or delivery by third-party commercial carrier, under subdivisions (d)(2) or (d)(3)(C) when the person to be served refuses delivery. This refusal of delivery is tantamount to receipt of the mail or delivery for purposes of service. On the other hand, if the mail or delivery is unclaimed, no service is made. Subdivision (l) was added in 1983, effective September 1, 1983, to make it clear that refusal of delivery by the addressee constitutes delivery.
Statutes governing special procedures often conflict with these rules. As an example, NDCC 32-19-32 concerning the time period for mailing the summons and complaint after publication in a mortgage foreclosure conflicts with Rule 4(e)(4). In this situation, Rules 4(d)(4) and 81(a) recognize that provisions of the statute prevail.
A new subdivision (f) was added, effective March 1, 1996, to provide procedures for service upon a person in a foreign country. The new procedures follow Rule 26(f), Fed.R.Civ.P. The letter designation of each subdivision was changed accordingly.
SOURCES: Procedure Committee Minutes of __________________; April 30-May 1, 1998, pages 3, 8, and 11; January 29-30, 1998, pages 17-18; September 25-26, 1997, page 2; January 30, 1997, pages 6-7, 10-12; September 26-27, 1996, pages 14-16; January 26-27, 1995, pages 7-8; April 20, 1989, page 2; December 3, 1987, pages 1-4 and 11; May 21-22, 1987, page 5; November 29, 1984, pages 3-5; September 30- October 1, 1982, pages 15-18; April 15-16, 1982, pages 2-5; December 11-12, 1980, page 2; October 30-31, 1980, page 31; January 17-18, 1980, pages 1-3; November 29-30, 1979, page 2; October 27-28, 1977, page 10; April 8-9, 1976, pages 5-9; Rule 4, FRCivP.
SUPERSEDED: Sections 28-0502, 28-0503, 28- 0504, 28-0505, 28-0601, 28-0602, 28-0603, 28-0604, 28-0605, 28-0606, 28-0607, 28-0608, 28-0609, 28- 0610, 28-0616, 28-0619, 28-0620, 28-0621, 28-0622, 28-0623, 28-0624, 28-0625, 28-0626, 28-0627, 28- 0628, 28-0629, 28-0632, 28-3001, NDRC 1943, and Chapters 28-06, 28-06.1, NDCC.
CROSS REFERENCE: Rules 5 (Service and Filing of Pleadings and Other Papers), 45 (Subpoena), and 81 (Applicability In General), NDRCivP; Rule 8.4 (Summons in Action for Divorce or Separation), NDROC.