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CHAPTER 8: OVERVIEW OF CIVIL CASES - Table of Contents

8.1 - Introduction8.2 - Where to find civil law8.3 - Starting a civil case: the complaint8.4 - Serving the complaint8.5 - Responding to the complaint8.6 - Requesting a jury8.7 - Alternate Dispute Resolution8.8 - Initial Procedural Requirements8.9 - Pretrial Discovery8.10 - Summary judgment motions8.11 - Trial8.12 - Damages, Costs and Attorneys Fees

8.4 SERVING THE COMPLAINT

Once the Plaintiff files the Complaint in the Court, he must serve it on the Defendant, along with a "Summons" instructing the Defendant as to what action needs to be taken next. Generally, this requires personal service directly on the Defendant. Rule 4 of the Colorado Rules of Civil Procedure spells out the requirements. Because neither the Plaintiff nor the Plaintiff's attorney may themselves serve such "process," employees or private process servers often serve this function. The sheriff of the county in which service is to be made may also be "hired" for that task.

If the Defendant is an individual adult, he or she may be served by being directly handed a copy of the Summons and Complaint, but it may also be left at the Defendant's residence with an adult spouse or other family member or at the Defendant's place of business with the Defendant's secretary, manager or "chief clerk." If the Defendant is a Colorado corporation or a corporation authorized to do business in Colorado, it may be served through one of its officers or with the individual it has identified to the Colorado Secretary of State as its "registered agent." In some instances, such as where the corporation has not identified any such registered agent, service can be made on the Colorado Secretary of State's office itself.

Because a lawsuit usually involves the potential for the Defendant's property to be affected, the Defendant's constitutional due process rights generally require that the Defendant be personally served with notice of that lawsuit. In some instances, however, where it is impossible to determine the actual whereabouts (or even the exact identity) of a Defendant, the Plaintiff may ask the court for permission to publish notice of the lawsuit in a newspaper in that jurisdiction and forego any other service.

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