Ohio Rules of Civil Procedure Updates

Ohio Rules of Civil Procedure

The Ohio Rules of Civil Procedure determine the legal processes that are followed by Ohio state courts in civil actions. The rules are meant to eliminate delay and improve efficiency. On July 1, 2020, amendments to the Ohio Rules of Civil Procedure took effect.  For the next few issues, we will discuss these rule changes, starting with Rule 4.7.

Ohio Rules of Civil Procedure Updates

Before the July 1st amendments, service on a defendant in a lawsuit was achieved by the Clerk of Courts issuing a summons and Complaint upon the defendant. The Clerk would attempt service first by USPS certified mail or common carrier (FedEx), and then regular mail as needed. If service by regular mail carrier failed, then personal or residential service by the sheriff on the Ohio Secretary of State (for an auto case) or service by publication was allowed.

Perfecting Service

Rule 4.7 is a new rule that permits an alternative method of perfecting service: a waiver.  When filing a lawsuit, in lieu of traditional service methods, a plaintiff may utilize a waiver of service method similar to the Federal Rules.  The plaintiff can send a copy of the complaint directly to the defendant or defendant representative with a waiver request. The defendant can simply sign and return the waiver and upon filing by the plaintiff, it operates as if a summons and complaint were served as the date of filing.  However, there are pros and cons to this new method.

How does this update affect me?

Relying on the Court, U.S. Mail, or Fed Ex to serve the summons and Complaint can lead to delays in getting your case moving forward.  If you know who the Defendant is, where the Defendant is, or have a represented Defendant before a Complaint is filed, using Civil Rule 4.7 can speed up your case.  The decision about whether to utilize Rule 4.7 comes down to the sophistication of the Defendant, interactions with the Defendant pre-suit, and where the defendant is located.

Should you wish to discuss this new service method more in-depth or how it may affect you and your claim moving forward, please contact one of our subrogation lawyers.