David Kopel, President of legalpapers.net, explains his company, House Bill 365 and its repercussions to LawyersandSettlements in a phone interview.
LawyersandSettlements (LAS): What is a process server and what does your company do?
David Kopel (DK): We are a private process-serving company, where an independent citizen delivers court papers—such as foreclosure notices.
LAS: Isn't that what a sheriff does? What is the difference?
(DK):A sheriff is paid a salary and works 9 to 5. We go anywhere, any day, any time and we get paid when documents are delivered. We pick up the slack.
LAS: Is this bill the direct result of sub-prime mortgages and increasing foreclosures?
(DK): You could say that. Sadly, our business is booming - we are the messengers of bad news. Process servers now deliver documents, in the wake of mortgage lenders. Some mortgage lenders who just went out of business are looking for a job and it is not uncommon for the mortgage lender who gave a sub-prime mortgage to be the same person delivering court papers to a household. That is the sad part.
We want to educate people. All these foreclosures are occurring and now the governor has made a new market for delivery. In this situation it is better to have someone to physically deliver than to have it sent by certified mail.
LAS: How does this affect your business?
(DK):This house bill 365 in Maryland means that private process servers deliver documents for lawsuits, personal injury cases and debt collection to residences—we can either put the document in a 'defendant's' hands personally or we can serve anyone of suitable age (over 18) at the home, as long as the defendant resides at that address.
By signing this HB 365, the governor of Maryland has opened up a whole new industry for process servers. Anyone can now deliver foreclosure papers if they are over the age of 18.
LAS: What is the reasoning behind the bill?
(DK): Documents used to be sent to the homeowner by certified mail. But people
who are months behind on their mortgages say they never got the mail. This bill now allows a private process server to serve the person, making sure that he receives the foreclosure documentation.
I think the reason for this bill is that people have had their homes foreclosed upon and never received the paperwork. Obviously you know when you haven't paid your mortgage. I assume that if it is not paid within three months, foreclosure is just around the corner.
HB 365 gives three options:
1. You can serve the complaint foreclosure personally
2. If the 'mortagagor/defendant' is not home it can be left with any suitable person of age and this is the mortgagor's dwelling house or usual place of abode.
3. If you can't do either of the above after two good faith efforts, on two separate days, you are allowed to post the complaint to foreclose on the premises.
LAS: Why is HB 365 worrisome for you?
(DK): Anyone 18 or over can say he went to a house on two days and posted. Maryland is one of 3 or 5 states which requires no license to serve papers and I don't think they have thought this through: who is going to deliver the complaint foreclosure? I can't imagine that a lending institution would hire the mortgage guy. I think a third party, ie. a private process serving agency with a minimum of five years incorporation should be the deliverer, not John Smith down the street who works out of his car.
We have been in this business for 21 years; we have stringent guidelines to protect the lending institution, the attorney filing the papers, and our process servers delivering the court document—the complaint foreclosure. And because of what we do internally, it protects the homeowner to confirm that they have indeed received the documents.
LAS: Has your company ever been involved in an altercation when giving foreclosure notice?
(DK): We have had two situations in 21 years. For the most part, people are respectful of us coming to their home. We try to talk them into phoning the lending institution to work out a payment plan—one of our areas of expertise. We try to show compassion, and we handle about 3,000 cases per month between 60 drivers.
LAS: Is there anything positive about the bill?
(DK): It is good because the post office doesn't have to send out so much certified mail. There has to be an affidavit of service which is an affidavit under oath that the document was actually delivered.
However, the person who is being foreclosed upon will need an attorney or he will need a company to buy his home. But there is generally room to negotiate.
David A. Kopel, President
Phone: (410) 823-4444 ext 118
LAWSUITS NEWS & LEGAL INFORMATION
House Bill 365 Means New Industry for Process Servers
|. By Jane Mundy|
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