Is Good Service A Vanishing Commodity?

The lack of good service in bankruptcy courts drove Judge Weissbrodt (ND CA) to post a practice tip for attorneys on getting good service by mail on corporations and financial institutions.  It’s hard to improve on word from on high:

FRBP 9014(b) provides that a motion in a contested matter must be served in accordance with
the manner of service provided for service of a summons and complaint under FRCP 7004. See
also, In re Villar, 317 B.R. 88 (9th Cir. BAP 2004). ….

1. The Guidelines for Valuing and Avoiding Liens in Individual Chapter 11 Cases and
Chapter 13 Cases
for the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District of
California (“Guidelines for Valuing and Avoiding Liens”) specifically provide:
Because a motion to strip lien seeks relief against a specific, identifiable party,
debtor must comply with B.L.R. 9014-1(b) & (c). Debtor should take care to
serve the affected lienholder in the manner required by the FRBP, and in
particular FRBP 7004(b) and 7004(h) as to certain lenders.
Guidelines for Valuing and Avoiding Liens, ¶ 2.

2. When a corporation is served to the attention of an agent for service of process, a copy of
the motion must also be served on the corporation. Service on the registered agent alone
is insufficient. FRBP 7004(b)(3).

3. Service to the “attention of an officer, a managing or general agent” under FRBP
7004(b)(3) requires that the movant “determine the name of the president or other officer
and make sure the envelope is addressed to him or her, by name.” In re Schoon, 153
B.R. 48, 49 (Bankr. N.D. Cal. 1993). Accord Villar, 317 B.R. at 93; In re Pittman
Mechanical Contractors, Inc., 180 B.R. 453, 457 (Bankr. E.D. Va. 1995). Service to
“Attn: Officer” is insufficient.

4. The official website of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation has a “Bank Find”
search feature, which allows the searcher to determine if a financial institution is an
“insured depository.” If an institution is an “insured depository” then the institution
must be served in accordance with the provisions of FRBP 7004(h). This “Bank Find”
search can be found at http://www2.fdic.gov/idasp/main_bankfind.asp.

5. If the party being served has failed to properly update his or her address, service on the
old address of record is proper. In re Cossio, 163 B.R. 150 (9th Cir. BAP 1994), aff’d 56
F.3d 70 (9th Cir. 1995). The burden is the party who has changed his or her address to
ensure that his or her address is properly updated in the official records.

6. If relief is sought against any entity that has filed a claim, all papers shall be mailed to the
address shown on the proof of claim. B.L.R. 9014-1(b)(4)(A).

7. Service of an objection to a proof of claim is governed by FRBP 3007, not 7004.
Therefore, service of an objection on the person designated on the proof of claim as the
notice recipient is sufficient. In re State Line Hotel, Inc., 323 B.R. 703 (9th Cir. BAP
2005), vacated and remanded as moot, 242 Fed. Appx. 460 (9th Cir. 2007).

 

See, there’s nothing to it<g>.  But master these rules, and 95% of the challenge in stripping liens vanishes.

Image courtesy of TBoard.

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