Legal Memorandum: Service of Process in IL

Issue: Under Illinois law, may service be sufficiently processed by leaving papers at the door of the named person’s home?

Area of Law: Litigation & Procedure
Keywords: Service of process; Leaving the papers at the door; Process server
Jurisdiction: Illinois
Cited Cases: 703 N.E.2d 542; 85 N.E.2d 345; 172 N.E.2d 429
Cited Statutes: 735 Ill. Comp. Stat. 5/2-2-3(a)(1)
Date: 09/01/2000

When a defendant refuses to acknowledge the process server, the server may leave the papers at the defendant’s door.  “Service may be effected on an individual ‘by leaving a copy of the summons with the defendant personally.’  However . . . no requirement exists that the process server physically place the papers in defendant’s hand.”  Freund Equip., Inc. v. Fox, 301 Ill. App. 3d 163, 703 N.E.2d 542, 545 (2d Dist. 1998) (citing 735 Ill. Comp. Stat. 5/2-2-3(a)(1)). 

The process server in Freund Equipment was a private investigator who had talked to the defendant’s neighbors and a work crew across the street from his home.  The investigator asked about the defendant’s habits and what car he drove.  He was watching the defendant’s property one morning when a man left the home and walked toward the defendant’s car.  When the investigator approached the man and asked for “Stephen Fox,” the man returned to the house and locked the door.  The investigator followed him as he retreated, and tried to describe the papers.  Finally, the investigator, seeing the man’s shadow inside, announced that he would attach the papers to the door.  The investigator then completed an affidavit of service.  Id., 703 N.E.2d at 543.   See also Hatmaker v. Hatmaker, 337 Ill. App. 175, 85 N.E.2d 345 (1st Dist. 1949) (sliding papers under door of defendant’s hotel room while defendant was inside was sufficient). 

Note also, that the fact that a defendant was evading service does not […]

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