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Ohio Rules of Civil Procedure

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Ohio Process Serving Requirements

Personal service When the plaintiff files a written request with the clerk for personal service, service of process shall be made by that method. When process issued from the Supreme Court, a court of appeals, a court of common pleas, or a county court is to be served personally, the clerk of the court shall deliver the process and sufficient copies of the process and complaint, or other document to be served, to the sheriff of the county in which the party to be served resides or may be found. When process issues from the municipal court, delivery shall be to the bailiff of the court for service on all defendants who reside or may be found within the county or counties in which that court has territorial jurisdiction and to the sheriff of any other county in this state for service upon a defendant who resides in or may be found in that other county. In the alternative, process issuing from any of these courts may be delivered by the clerk to any person not less than eighteen years of age, who is not a party and who has been designated by order of the court to make service of process. The person serving process shall locate the person to be served and shall tender a copy of the process and accompanying documents to the person to be served. When the copy of the process has been served, the person serving process shall endorse that fact on the process and return it to the clerk, who shall make the appropriate entry on the appearance docket. When the person serving process is unable to serve a copy of the process within twenty-eight days, the person shall endorse that fact and the reasons therefore on the process and return the process and copies to the clerk who shall make the appropriate entry on the appearance docket. In the event of failure of service, the clerk shall follow the notification procedure set forth in division (A) of this rule. Failure to make service within the twenty-eight day period and failure to make proof of service do not affect the validity of the service.

Ohio Rules of Civil Procedure

Please note that lobbyists are active in the state of Ohio and laws concerning civil procedure and process serving can change. Therefore the information listed below may have been amended. For updated process serving legislation, please visit the Ohio Courts web site.

Rule 4. Process: Summons

Rule 4.1 Process: Methods of Service

Rule 4.2 Process: Who May be Served

Rule 4.3 Process: Out-of-State Service

Rule 4.4 Process: Service by Publication

Rule 4.5 Process: Alternative Provisions for Service in a Foreign Country

Rule 4.6 Process: Limits; Amendment; Service Refused; Service Unclaimed

Rule 45. Subpoena

Rule 4. Process: Summons

Summons: issuance.

Upon the filing of the complaint the clerk shall forthwith issue a summons for service upon each defendant listed in the caption. Upon request of the plaintiff separate or additional summons shall issue at any time against any defendant.

Summons: form; copy of complaint.

The summons shall be signed by the clerk, contain the name and address of the court and the names and addresses of the parties, be directed to the defendant, state the name and address of the plaintiff’s attorney, if any, otherwise the plaintiff’s address, and the times within which these rules or any statutory provision require the defendant to appear and defend, and shall notify him that in case of his failure to do so, judgment by default will be rendered against him for the relief demanded in the complaint. Where there are multiple plaintiffs or multiple defendants, or both, the summons may contain, in lieu of the names and addresses of all parties, the name of the first party on each side and the name and address of the party to be served. A copy of the complaint shall be attached to each summons. The plaintiff shall furnish the clerk with sufficient copies.

Summons: plaintiff and defendant defined.

For the purpose of issuance and service of summons “plaintiff” shall include any party seeking the issuance and service of summons, and “defendant” shall include any party upon whom service of summons is sought.

Waiver of service of summons.

Service of summons may be waived in writing by any person entitled thereto under Rule 4.2 who is at least eighteen years of age and not under disability.

Summons: time limit for service.

If a service of the summons and complaint is not made upon a defendant within six months after the filing of the complaint and the party on whose behalf such service was required cannot show good cause why such service was not made within that period, the action shall be dismissed as to that defendant without prejudice upon the court’s own initiative with notice to such party or upon motion. This division shall not apply to out-of-state service pursuant to Rule 4.3 or to service in a foreign country pursuant to Rule 4.5. [Adopted eff. 7-1-70; amended eff. 7-1-71, 7-1-73, 7-1-75, 7-1-84]


Rule 4.1 Process: Methods of Service

All methods of service within this state, except service by publication as provided in Civ. R. 4.4(A), are described in this rule. Methods of out-of-state service and for service in a foreign country are described in Civ. R. 4.3 and 4.5.

Service by certified or express mail.

Evidenced by return receipt signed by any person, service of any process shall be by certified or express mail unless otherwise permitted by these rules. The clerk shall place a copy of the process and complaint or other document to be served in an envelope. The clerk shall address the envelope to the person to be served at the address set forth in the caption or at the address set forth in written instructions furnished to the clerk with instructions to forward. The clerk shall affix adequate postage and place the sealed envelope in the United States mail as certified or express mail return receipt requested with instructions to the delivering postal employee to show to whom delivered, date of delivery, and address where delivered. The clerk shall forthwith enter the fact of mailing on the appearance docket and make a similar entry when the return receipt is received. If the envelope is returned with an endorsement showing failure of delivery, the clerk shall forthwith notify, by mail, the attorney of record or, if there is no attorney of record, the party at whose instance process was issued and enter the fact of notification on the appearance docket. The clerk shall file the return receipt or returned envelope in the records of the action. All postage shall be charged to costs. If the parties to be served by certified or express mail are numerous and the clerk determines there is insufficient security for costs, the clerk may require the party requesting service to advance an amount estimated by the clerk to be sufficient to pay the postage.

Personal service.

When the plaintiff files a written request with the clerk for personal service, service of process shall be made by that method. When process issued from the Supreme Court, a court of appeals, a court of common pleas, or a county court is to be served personally, the clerk of the court shall deliver the process and sufficient copies of the process and complaint, or other document to be served, to the sheriff of the county in which the party to be served resides or may be found. When process issues from the municipal court, delivery shall be to the bailiff of the court for service on all defendants who reside or may be found within the county or counties in which that court has territorial jurisdiction and to the sheriff of any other county in this state for service upon a defendant who resides in or may be found in that other county. In the alternative, process issuing from any of these courts may be delivered by the clerk to any person not less than eighteen years of age, who is not a party and who has been designated by order of the court to make service of process. The person serving process shall locate the person to be served and shall tender a copy of the process and accompanying documents to the person to be served. When the copy of the process has been served, the person serving process shall endorse that fact on the process and return it to the clerk, who shall make the appropriate entry on the appearance docket. When the person serving process is unable to serve a copy of the process within twenty-eight days, the person shall endorse that fact and the reasons therefor on the process and return the process and copies to the clerk who shall make the appropriate entry on the appearance docket. In the event of failure of service, the clerk shall follow the notification procedure set forth in division (A) of this rule. Failure to make service within the twenty-eight day period and failure to make proof of service do not affect the validity of the service.

Residence service.

When the plaintiff files a written request with the clerk for residence service, service of process shall be made by that method. Residence service shall be effected by leaving a copy of the process and the complaint, or other document to be served, at the usual place of residence of the person to be served with some person of suitable age and discretion then residing therein. The clerk of the court shall issue the process, and the process server shall return it, in the same manner as prescribed in division (B) of this rule. When the person serving process is unable to serve a copy of the process within twenty-eight days, the person shall endorse that fact and the reasons therefor on the process, and return the process and copies to the clerk, who shall make the appropriate entry on the appearance docket. In the event of failure of service, the clerk shall follow the notification procedure set forth in division (A) of this rule. Failure to make service within the twenty-eight-day period and failure to make proof of service do not affect the validity of service. [Adopted eff. 7-1-70; amended eff. 7-1-71, 7-1-80, 7-1-97]


Rule 4.2 Process: Who May be Served

Service of process, except service by publication as provided in Civ. R. 4.4(A), pursuant to Civ. R. 4 through 4.6 shall be made as follows:

Upon an individual

other than a person under sixteen years of age or an incompetent person, by serving the individual;

Upon a person under sixteen years of age

by serving either the person’s guardian or any one of the following persons with whom the person to be served lives or resides: father, mother, or the individual having the care of the person; or by serving the person if the person neither has a guardian nor lives or resides with a parent or a person having his or her care;

Upon an incompetent person by serving either the incompetent’s guardian or

the person designated in division (E) of this rule, but if no guardian has been appointed and the incompetent is not under confinement or commitment, by serving the incompetent;

Upon an individual confined to a penal institution of this state

or of a subdivision of this state by serving the individual, except that when the individual to be served is a person under sixteen years of age, the provisions of division (B) of this rule shall be applicable;

Upon an incompetent person who is confined in any institution for the mentally ill

or mentally deficient or committed by order of court to the custody of some other institution or person by serving the superintendent or similar official of the institution to which the incompetent is confined or committed or the person to whose custody the incompetent is committed;

Upon a corporation either domestic or foreign:

by serving the agent authorized by appointment or by law to receive service of process; or by serving the corporation by certified or express mail at any of its usual places of business; or by serving an officer or a managing or general agent of the corporation;

Upon a partnership

a limited partnership, or a limited partnership association by serving the entity by certified or express mail at any of its usual places of business or by serving a partner, limited partner, manager, or member;

Upon an unincorporated association

by serving it in its entity name by certified or express mail at any of its usual places of business or by serving an officer of the unincorporated association;

Upon a professional association

by serving the association in its corporate name by certified or express mail at the place where the corporate offices are maintained or by serving a shareholder;

Upon this state or any one of its departments

offices and institutions as defined in division (C) of section 121.01 of the Revised Code, by serving the officer responsible for the administration of the department, office or institution or by serving the attorney general of this state;

Upon a county or upon any of its offices

agencies, districts, departments, institutions or administrative units, by serving the officer responsible for the administration of the office, agency, district, department, institution or unit or by serving the prosecuting attorney of the county;

Upon a township

by serving one or more of the township trustees or the township clerk or by serving the prosecuting attorney of the county in which the township is located, unless the township is organized under Chapter 504. of the Revised Code, in which case service may be made upon the township law director;

Upon a municipal corporation or upon any of its offices

departments, agencies, authorities, institutions or administrative units by serving the officer responsible for the administration of the office, department, agency, authority, institution or unit or by serving the city solicitor or comparable legal officer;

Upon any governmental entity

not mentioned above by serving the person, officer, group or body responsible for the administration of that entity or by serving the appropriate legal officer, if any, representing the entity. Service upon any person who is a member of the “group” or “body” responsible for the administration of the entity shall be sufficient. [Adopted eff. 7-1-70; amended eff. 7-1-71, 7-1-96, 7-1-97]


Rule 4.3 Process: Out-of-State Service

When service permitted.

Service of process may be made outside of this state, as provided in this rule, in any action in this state, upon a person who, at the time of service of process, is a nonresident of this state or is a resident of this state who is absent from this state. “Person” includes an individual, an individual’s executor, administrator, or other personal representative, or a corporation, partnership, association, or any other legal or commercial entity, who, acting directly or by an agent, has caused an event to occur out of which the claim that is the subject of the complaint arose, from the person’s:

Methods of service.

The clerk shall forthwith enter the fact of mailing on the appearance docket and make a similar entry when the return receipt is received. If the envelope is returned with an endorsement showing failure of delivery, the clerk shall forthwith notify, by mail, the attorney of record or, if there is no attorney of record, the party at whose instance process was issued and enter the fact of notification on the appearance docket. The clerk shall file the return receipt or returned envelope in the records of the action. If the envelope is returned with an endorsement showing failure of delivery, service is complete when the attorney or serving party, after notification by the clerk, files with the clerk an affidavit setting forth facts indicating the reasonable diligence utilized to ascertain the whereabouts of the party to be served.

All postage shall be charged to costs. If the parties to be served by certified or express mail are numerous and the clerk determines there is insufficient security for costs, the clerk may require the party requesting service to advance an amount estimated by the clerk to be sufficient to pay the postage.

Rule 4.4 Process: Service by Publication

Residence unknown.

Upon the filing of the affidavit, the clerk shall cause service of notice to be made by publication in a newspaper of general circulation in the county in which the complaint is filed. If no newspaper is published in that county, then publication shall be in a newspaper published in an adjoining county. The publication shall contain the name and address of the court, the case number, the name of the first party on each side, and the name and last known address, if any, of the person or persons whose residence is unknown. The publication also shall contain a summary statement of the object of the complaint and demand for relief, and shall notify the person to be served that he or she is required to answer within twenty-eight days after the publication. The publication shall be published at least once a week for six successive weeks unless publication for a lesser number of weeks is specifically provided by law. Service shall be complete at the date of the last publication. After the last publication, the publisher or its agent shall file with the court an affidavit showing the fact of publication together with a copy of the notice of publication. The affidavit and copy of the notice shall constitute proof of service.

The clerk shall also cause the complaint and summons to be mailed by ordinary mail, address correction requested, to the defendant’s last known address. The clerk shall obtain a certificate of mailing from the United States Postal Service. If the clerk is notified of a corrected or forwarding address of the defendant within the six-week period that notice is posted pursuant to division (A)(2) of this rule, the clerkshall cause the complaint and summons to be mailed to the corrected or forwarding address. The clerk shall note the name, address, and date of each mailing in the docket.

After the last week of posting, the clerk shall note on the docket where and when notice was posted. Service shall be complete upon the entry of posting.

Residence known.

If the residence of a defendant is known, and the action is one in which service by publication is authorized by law, service of process shall be effected by a method other than by publication as provided by:

Rule 4.5 Process: Alternative Provisions for Service in a Foreign Country

Manner.

When Civ. R. 4.3 or Civ. R. 4.4 or both allow service upon a person outside this state and service is to be effected in a foreign country, service of the summons and complaint may also be made:

Return.

Proof of service may be made as prescribed by Civ. R. 4.1(B), or by the law of the foreign country, or by order of the court. When mail service is made pursuant to division (A)(5) of this rule, proof of service shall include a receipt signed by the addressee or other evidence of delivery to the addressee satisfactory to the court. [Adopted eff. 7-1-70; amended eff. 7-1-97]


Rule 4.6 Process: Limits; Amendment; Service Refused; Service Unclaimed

Limits of effective service.

All process may be served anywhere in this state and, when authorized by law or these rules, may be served outside this state.

Amendment.

The court within its discretion and upon such terms as are just, may at any time allow the amendment of any process or proof of service thereof, unless the amendment would cause material prejudice to the substantial rights of the party against whom the process was issued.

Service refused.

If service of process is refused, and the certified or express mail envelope is returned with an endorsement showing such refusal, or the return of the person serving process states that service of process has been refused, the clerk shall forthwith notify, by mail, the attorney of record or, if there is no attorney of record, the party at whose instance process was issued. If the attorney, or serving party, after notification by the clerk, files with the clerk a written request for ordinary mail service, the clerk shall send by ordinary mail a copy of the summons and complaint or other document to be served to the defendant at the address set forth in the caption, or at the address set forth in written instructions furnished to the clerk. The mailing shall be evidenced by a certificate of mailing which shall be completed and filed by the clerk. Answer day shall be twenty-eight days after the date of mailing as evidenced by the certificate of mailing. The clerk shall endorse this answer date upon the summons which is sent by ordinary mail. Service shall be deemed complete when the fact of mailing is entered of record. Failure to claim certified or express mail service is not refusal of service within the meaning of division (C) of this rule.

Service unclaimed.

If a certified or express mail envelope is returned with an endorsement showing that the envelope was unclaimed, the clerk shall forthwith notify, by mail, the attorney of record or, if there is no attorney of record, the party at whose instance process was issued. If the attorney, or serving party, after notification by the clerk, files with the clerk a written request for ordinary mail service, the clerk shall send by ordinary mail a copy of the summons and complaint or other document to be served to the defendant at the address set forth in the caption, or at the address set forth in written instructions furnished to the clerk. The mailing shall be evidenced by a certificate of mailing which shall be completed and filed by the clerk. Answer day shall be twenty-eight days after the date of mailing as evidenced by the certificate of mailing. The clerk shall endorse this answer date upon the summons which is sent by ordinary mail. Service shall be deemed complete when the fact of mailing is entered of record, provided that the ordinary mail envelope is not returned by the postal authorities with an endorsement showing failure of delivery. If the ordinary mail envelope is returned undelivered, the clerk shall forthwith notify the attorney, or serving party, by mail.

Duty of attorney of record or serving party.

The attorney of record or the serving party shall be responsible for determining if service has been made and shall timely file written instructions with the clerk regarding completion of service notwithstanding the provisions in Civ. R. 4.1 through 4.6 which instruct a clerk to notify the attorney of record or the serving party of failure of service of process. [Adopted eff. 7-1-70; amended eff. 7-1-71, 7-1-78, 7-1-97]


Rule 45. Subpoena

Form; Issuance.

A command to produce and permit inspection may be joined with a command to attend and give testimony, or may be issued separately.

A subpoena may not be used to obtain the attendance of a party or the production of documents by a party in discovery. Rather, a party’s attendance at a deposition may be obtained only by notice under Civ. R. 30, and documents may be obtained from a party in discovery only pursuant to Civ. R. 34.

Service.

A subpoena may be served by a sheriff, bailiff, coroner, clerk of court, constable, or a deputy of any, by an attorney at law, or by any other person designated by order of court who is not a party and is not less than eighteen years of age. Service of a subpoena upon a person named therein shall be made by delivering a copy of the subpoena to the person, by reading it to him or her in person, or by leaving it at the person’s usual place of residence, and by tendering to the person upon demand the fees for one day’s attendance and the mileage allowed by law. The person serving the subpoena shall file a return of the subpoena with the clerk. If the witness being subpoenaed resides outside the county in which the court is located, the fees for one day’s attendance and mileage shall be tendered without demand. The return may be forwarded through the postal service or otherwise.

Case Note: A subpoena is validly served when it is sent by regular mail to the witness’ residence and the witness has actual knowledge of it. State v. Castle, 92 O.App.3d 732, 637 N.E.2d 80 (1994).

Protection of persons subject to subpoenas.

(b) Subject to division (D)(2) of this rule, a person commanded to produce under divisions (A)(1)(b)(ii), (iii), (iv), or (v) of this rule may, within fourteen days after service of the subpoena or before the time specified for compliance if such time is less than fourteen days after service, serve upon the party or attorney designated in the subpoena written objections to production. If objection is made, the party serving the subpoena shall not be entitled to production except pursuant to an order of the court by which the subpoena was issued. If objection has been made, the party serving the subpoena, upon notice to the person commanded to produce, may move at any time for an order to compel the production. An order to compel production shall protect any person who is not a party or an officer of a party from significant expense resulting from the production commanded.

Duties in responding to subpoena.

Sanctions.

Failure by any person without adequate excuse to obey a subpoena served upon that person may be deemed a contempt of the court from which the subpoena issued. A subpoenaed person or that person’s attorney who frivolously resists discovery under this rule may be required by the court to pay the reasonable expenses, including reasonable attorney’s fees, of the party seeking the discovery. The court from which a subpoena was issued may impose upon a party or attorney in breach of the duty imposed by division (C) (1) of this rule an appropriate sanction, which may include, but is not limited to, lost earnings and reasonable attorney’s fees.

Privileges.

Nothing in this rule shall be construed to authorize a party to obtain information protected by any privilege recognized by law, or to authorize any person to disclose such information. [Adopted eff. 7-1-70; amended eff. 7-1-71, 7-1-72, 7-1-93, 7-1-94]

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