Colbert v. International Security Bureau

79 A.D.2d 448, 437 N.Y.S.2d 360 (1981)

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Colbert v. International Security Bureau

New York Supreme Court, Appellate Division
79 A.D.2d 448, 437 N.Y.S.2d 360 (1981)

Facts

The Colberts (plaintiffs) sued International Security Bureau, Inc. (International) and Arthur Schultheiss (collectively, defendants), who was an officer and director of International. When the Colberts’ process server went to International’s offices to serve a summons and complaint on International, Lenore Sobel was the only employee present. Sobel refused to accept service, but the process server told her that she was required to do so, left the papers on her desk, and walked out. The process server subsequently signed an affidavit attesting that he left the summons and complaint with Sobel, whom the process server identified as International’s managing agent. However, International’s only corporate officers were Schultheiss and Van Norden. Sobel was not an officer; she was a receptionist with no supervisory or management responsibilities. Indeed, Sobel only rarely was left alone in the office and had never before been served with process. International and Schultheiss shared an attorney, who eventually received the summons and complaint and filed an answer that included the lack of personal jurisdiction over International as an affirmative defense. The Colberts moved to strike the personal-jurisdiction defense on the ground that, among other things, International was properly served pursuant to Civil Practice Law and Rules (CPLR) § 311(1) because Sobel was International’s managing agent. The supreme court ruled that the Colberts did not properly serve International by serving Sobel. The Colberts appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Damiani, J.)

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