Rules of Civil Procedure
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Michigan Rules of Civil Procedure
Please note that lobbyists are active in the state of Michigan 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 Michigan Courts website.
Rule 2.102 Summons; Expiration of Summons; Dismissal of Action for Failure to Serve
(A) Issuance. On the filing of a complaint, the court clerk shall issue a summons to be served as provided in MCR 2.103 and 2.105. A separate summons may issue against a particular defendant or group of defendants. A duplicate summons may be issued from time to time and is as valid as the original summons.
(B) Form. A summons must be issued “In the name of the people of the State of Michigan,” under the seal of the court that issued it. It must be directed to the defendant, and include
(1) the name and address of the court,
(2) the names of the parties,
(3) the file number,
(4) the name and address of the plaintiff’s attorney or the address of a plaintiff appearing without an attorney,
(5) the defendant’s address, if known,
(6) the name of the court clerk,
(7) the date on which the summons was issued,
(8) the last date on which the summons is valid,
(9) a statement that the summons is invalid unless served on or before the last date on which it is valid,
(10) the time within which the defendant is required to answer or take other action, and
(11) a notice that if the defendant fails to answer or take other action within the time allowed, judgment may be entered against the defendant for the relief demanded in the complaint.
(C) Amendment. At any time on terms that are just, a court may allow process or proof of service of process to be amended, unless it clearly appears that to do so would materially prejudice the substantive rights of the party against whom the process issued. An amendment relates back to the date of the original issuance or service of process unless the court determines that relation back would unfairly prejudice the party against whom the process issued.
(D) Expiration. A summons expires 91 days after the date the complaint is filed. However, within those 91 days, on a showing of due diligence by the plaintiff in attempting to serve the original summons, the judge to whom the action is assigned may order a second summons to issue for a definite period not exceeding 1 year from the date the complaint is filed. If such an extension is granted, the new summons expires at the end of the extended period. The judge may impose just conditions on the issuance of the second summons. Duplicate summonses issued under subrule (A) do not extend the life of the original summons. The running of the 91-day period is tolled while a motion challenging the sufficiency of the summons or of the service of the summons is pending.
(E) Dismissal as to Defendant Not Served.
(1) On the expiration of the summons as provided in subrule (D), the action is deemed dismissed without prejudice as to a defendant who has not been served with process as provided in these rules, unless the defendant has submitted to the court’s jurisdiction. As to a defendant added as a party after the filing of the first complaint in the action, the time provided in this rule runs from the filing of the first pleading that names that defendant as a party.
(2) After the time stated in subrule (E)(1), the clerk shall examine the court records and enter an order dismissing the action as to a defendant who has not been served with process or submitted to the court’s jurisdiction. The clerk’s failure to enter a dismissal order does not continue an action deemed dismissed.
(3) The clerk shall give notice of the entry of a dismissal order under MCR 2.107 and record the date of the notice in the case file. The failure to give notice does not affect the dismissal.
(F) Setting Aside Dismissal. A court may set aside the dismissal of the action as to a defendant under subrule (E) only on stipulation of the parties or when all of the following conditions are met:
(1) within the time provided in subrule (D), service of process was in fact made on the dismissed defendant, or the defendant submitted to the court’s jurisdiction;
(2) proof of service of process was filed or the failure to file is excused for good cause shown;
(3) the motion to set aside the dismissal was filed within 28 days after notice of the order of dismissal was given, or, if notice of dismissal was not given, the motion was promptly filed after the plaintiff learned of the dismissal.
Rule 2.103 Process; Who May Serve
(A) Service Generally. Process in civil actions may be served by any legally competent adult who is not a party or an officer of a corporate party.
(B) Service Requiring Seizure of Property. A writ of restitution or process requiring the seizure or attachment of property may only be served by
(1) a sheriff or deputy sheriff, or a bailiff or court officer appointed by the court for that purpose,
(2) an officer of the Department of State Police in an action in which the state is a party, or
(3) a police officer of an incorporated city or village in an action in which the city or village is a party.
A writ of garnishment may be served by any person authorized by subrule (A).
(C) Service in a Governmental Institution. If personal service of process is to be made on a person in a governmental institution, hospital, or home, service must be made by the person in charge of the institution or by someone designated by that person.
(D) Process Requiring Arrest. Process in civil proceedings requiring the arrest of a person may be served only by a sheriff, deputy sheriff, or police officer, or by a court officer appointed by the court for that purpose.
Rule 2.104 Process; Proof of Service
(A) Requirements. Proof of service may be made by
(1) written acknowledgment of the receipt of a summons and a copy of the complaint, dated and signed by the person to whom the service is directed or by a person authorized under these rules to receive the service of process;
(2) a certificate stating the facts of service, including the manner, time, date, and place of service, if service is made within the State of Michigan by
(a) a sheriff,
(b) a deputy sheriff or bailiff, if that officer holds office in the county in which the court issuing the process is held,
(c) an appointed court officer,
(d) an attorney for a party; or
(3) an affidavit stating the facts of service, including the manner, time, date, and place of service, and indicating the process server’s official capacity, if any.
The place of service must be described by giving the address where the service was made or, if the service was not made at a particular address, by another description of the location.
(B) Failure to File. Failure to file proof of service does not affect the validity of the service.
(C) Publication, Posting, and Mailing. If the manner of service used requires sending a copy of the summons and complaint by mail, the party requesting issuance of the summons is responsible for arranging the mailing and filing proof of service. Proof of publication, posting, and mailing under MCR 2.106 is governed by MCR 2.106(G).
Rule 2.105 Process; Manner of Service
(A) Individuals. Process may be served on a resident or nonresident individual by
(1) delivering a summons and a copy of the complaint to the defendant personally; or
(2) sending a summons and a copy of the complaint by registered or certified mail, return receipt requested, and delivery restricted to the addressee. Service is made when the defendant acknowledges receipt of the mail. A copy of the return receipt signed by the defendant must be attached to proof showing service under subrule (A)(2).
(B) Individuals; Substituted Service. Service of process may be made
(1) on a nonresident individual, by
(a) serving a summons and a copy of the complaint in Michigan on an agent, employee, representative, sales representative, or servant of the defendant, and
(b) sending a summons and a copy of the complaint by registered mail addressed to the defendant at his or her last known address;
(2) on a minor, by serving a summons and a copy of the complaint on a person having care and control of the minor and with whom he or she resides;
(3) on a defendant for whom a guardian or conservator has been appointed and is acting, by serving a summons and a copy of the complaint on the guardian or conservator;
(4) on an individual doing business under an assumed name, by
(a) serving a summons and copy of the complaint on the person in charge of an office or business establishment of the individual, and
(b) sending a summons and a copy of the complaint by registered mail addressed to the individual at his or her usual residence or last known address.
(C) Partnerships; Limited Partnerships. Service of process on a partnership or limited partnership may be made by
(1) serving a summons and a copy of the complaint on any general partner or agent for service of process; or
(2) serving a summons and a copy of the complaint on the person in charge of a partnership office or business establishment and sending a summons and a copy of the complaint by registered mail, addressed to a general partner or agent for service of process at his or her usual residence or last known address.
(D) Private Corporations, Domestic and Foreign. Service of process on a domestic or foreign corporation may be made by
(1) serving a summons and a copy of the complaint on an officer or the resident agent;
(2) serving a summons and a copy of the complaint on a director, trustee, or person in charge of an office or business establishment of the corporation and sending a summons and a copy of the complaint by registered mail, addressed to the principal office of the corporation;
(3) serving a summons and a copy of the complaint on the last presiding officer, president, cashier, secretary, or treasurer of a corporation that has ceased to do business by failing to keep up its organization by the appointment of officers or otherwise, or whose term of existence has expired;
(4) sending a summons and a copy of the complaint by registered mail to the corporation or an appropriate corporation officer and to the Michigan Bureau of Commercial Services, Corporation Division if
(a) the corporation has failed to appoint and maintain a resident agent or to file a certificate of that appointment as required by law;
(b) the corporation has failed to keep up its organization by the appointment of officers or otherwise; or
(c) the corporation’s term of existence has expired.
(E) Partnership Associations; Unincorporated Voluntary Associations. Service of process on a partnership association or an unincorporated voluntary association may be made by
(1) serving a summons and a copy of the complaint on an officer, director, trustee, agent, or person in charge of an office or business establishment of the association, and
(2) sending a summons and a copy of the complaint by registered mail, addressed to an office of the association. If an office cannot be located, a summons and a copy of the complaint may be sent by registered mail to a member of the association other than the person on whom the summons and complaint was served.
(F) Service on Insurer. To the extent that it is permitted by statute, service on an insurer may be satisfied by providing two summonses and a copy of the complaint to the Commissioner of the Office of Financial and Insurance Regulation via delivery or registered mail.
(G) Public Corporations. Service of process on a public, municipal, quasi-municipal, or governmental corporation, unincorporated board, or public body may be made by serving a summons and a copy of the complaint on:
(1) the chairperson of the board of commissioners or the county clerk of a county;
(2) the mayor, the city clerk, or the city attorney of a city;
(3) the president, the clerk, or a trustee of a village;
(4) the supervisor or the township clerk of a township;
(5) the president, the secretary, or the treasurer of a school district;
(6) the president or the secretary of the Michigan State Board of Education;
(7) the president, the secretary, or other member of the governing body of a corporate body or an unincorporated board having control of a state institution;
(8) the president, the chairperson, the secretary, the manager, or the clerk of any other public body organized or existing under the constitution or laws of Michigan, when no other method of service is specially provided by statute.
The service of process may be made on an officer having substantially the same duties as those named or described above, irrespective of title. In any case, service may be made by serving a summons and a copy of the complaint on a person in charge of the office of an officer on whom service may be made and sending a summons and a copy of the complaint by registered mail addressed to the officer at his or her office.
(H) Agent Authorized by Appointment or by Law.
(1) Service of process on a defendant may be made by serving a summons and a copy of the complaint on an agent authorized by written appointment or by law to receive service of process.
(2) Whenever, pursuant to statute or court rule, service of process is to be made on a nongovernmental defendant by service on a public officer, service on the public officer may be made by registered mail addressed to his or her office.
(I) Discretion of the Court.
(1) On a showing that service of process cannot reasonably be made as provided by this rule, the court may by order permit service of process to be made in any other manner reasonably calculated to give the defendant actual notice of the proceedings and an opportunity to be heard.
(2) A request for an order under the rule must be made in a verified motion dated not more than 14 days before it is filed. The motion must set forth sufficient facts to show that process cannot be served under this rule and must state the defendant’s address or last known address, or that no address of the defendant is known. If the name or present address of the defendant is unknown, the moving party must set forth facts showing diligent inquiry to ascertain it. A hearing on the motion is not required unless the court so directs.
(3) Service of process may not be made under this subrule before entry of the court’s order permitting it.
(J) Jurisdiction; Range of Service; Effect of Improper Service.
(1) Provisions for service of process contained in these rules are intended to satisfy the due process requirement that a defendant be informed of an action by the best means available under the circumstances. These rules are not intended to limit or expand the jurisdiction given the Michigan courts over a defendant. The jurisdiction of a court over a defendant is governed by the United States Constitution and the constitution and laws of the State of Michigan. See MCL 600.701 et seq.
(2) There is no territorial limitation on the range of process issued by a Michigan court.
(3) An action shall not be dismissed for improper service of process unless the service failed to inform the defendant of the action within the time provided in these rules for service.
(K) Registered and Certified Mail.
(1) If a rule uses the term “registered mail,” that term includes the term “certified mail,” and the term “registered mail, return receipt requested” includes the term “certified mail, return receipt requested.” However, if certified mail is used, the receipt of mailing must be postmarked by the post office.
(2) If a rule uses the term “certified mail,” a postmarked receipt of mailing is not required. Registered mail may be used when a rule requires certified mail.
Rule 2.106 Notice by Posting or Publication
(A) Availability. This rule governs service of process by publication or posting pursuant to an order under MCR 2.105(I).
(B) Procedure. A request for an order permitting service under this rule shall be made by motion in the manner provided in MCR 2.105(I). In ruling on the motion, the court shall determine whether mailing is required under subrules (D)(2) or (E)(2).
(C) Notice of Action; Contents.
(1) The order directing that notice be given to a defendant under this rule must include
(a) the name of the court,
(b) the names of the parties,
(c) a statement describing the nature of the proceedings,
(d) directions as to where and when to answer or take other action permitted by law or court rule, and
(e) a statement as to the effect of failure to answer or take other action.
(2) If the names of some or all defendants are unknown, the order must describe the relationship of the unknown defendants to the matter to be litigated in the best way possible, as, for example, unknown claimants, unknown owners, or unknown heirs, devisees, or assignees of a named person.
(D) Publication of Order; Mailing. If the court orders notice by publication, the defendant shall be notified of the action by
(1) publishing a copy of the order once each week for 3 consecutive weeks, or for such further time as the court may require, in a newspaper in the county where the defendant resides, if known, and if not, in the county where the action is pending; and
(2) sending a copy of the order to the defendant at his or her last known address by registered mail, return receipt requested, before the date of the last publication. If the plaintiff does not know the present or last known address of the defendant, and cannot ascertain it after diligent inquiry, mailing a copy of the order is not required. The moving party is responsible for arranging for the mailing and proof of mailing.
(E) Posting; Mailing. If the court orders notice by posting, the defendant shall be notified of the action by
(1) posting a copy of the order in the courthouse and 2 or more other public places as the court may direct for 3 continuous weeks or for such further time as the court may require; and
(2) sending a copy of the order to the defendant at his or her last known address by registered mail, return receipt requested, before the last week of posting. If the plaintiff does not know the present or last known address of the defendant, and cannot ascertain it after diligent inquiry, mailing a copy of the order is not required. The moving party is responsible for arranging for the mailing and proof of mailing.
The order must designate who is to post the notice and file proof of posting. Only a person listed in MCR 2.103(B)(1), (2), or (3) may be designated.
(F) Newspaper Defined.
(1) The term “newspaper” as used in this rule is limited to a newspaper published in the English language for the dissemination of general news and information or for the dissemination of legal news. The newspaper must have a bona fide list of paying subscribers or have been published at least once a week in the same community without interruption for at least 2 years, and have been established, published, and circulated at least once a week without interruption for at least 1 year in the county where publication is to occur.
(2) If no newspaper qualifies in the county where publication is to be made under subrule (D)(1) the term “newspaper” includes a newspaper that by this rule is qualified to publish notice of actions commenced in an adjoining county.
(G) Proof of Service. Service of process made pursuant to this rule may be proven as follows:
(1) Publication must be proven by an affidavit of the publisher or the publisher’s agent
(a) stating facts establishing the qualification of the newspaper in which the order was published,
(b) setting out a copy of the published order, and
(c) stating the dates on which it was published.
(2) Posting must be proven by an affidavit of the person designated in the order under subrule (E) attesting that a copy of the order was posted for the required time in the courthouse in a conspicuous place open to the public and in the other places as ordered by the court.
(3) Mailing must be proven by affidavit. The affiant must attach a copy of the order as mailed, and a return receipt.
Rule 2.107 Service and Filing of Pleadings and Other Documents
(A) Service; When Required.
(1) Unless otherwise stated in this rule, every party who has filed a pleading, an appearance, or a motion must be served with a copy of every paper later filed in the action. A nonparty who has filed a motion or appeared in response to a motion need only be served with papers that relate to that motion.
(2) Except as provided in MCR 2.603, after a default is entered against a party, further service of papers need not be made on that party unless he or she has filed an appearance or a written demand for service of papers. However, a pleading that states a new claim for relief against a party in default must be served in the manner provided by MCR 2.105.
(3) If an attorney appears on behalf of a person who has not received a copy of the complaint, a copy of the complaint must be delivered to the attorney on request.
(4) All papers filed on behalf of a defendant must be served on all other defendants not in default.
(B) Service on Attorney or Party.
(1) Service required or permitted to be made on a party for whom an attorney has appeared in the action must be made on the attorney except as follows:
(a) The original service of the summons and complaint must be made on the party as provided by MCR 2.105;
(b) When a contempt proceeding for disobeying a court order is initiated, the notice or order must be personally delivered to the party, unless the court orders otherwise;
(c) After a final judgment or final order has been entered and the time for an appeal of right has passed, papers must be served on the party unless the rule governing the particular postjudgment procedure specifically allows service on the attorney;
(d) The court may order service on the party;
(e) If an attorney files a notice of limited appearance under MCR 2.117 on behalf of a self-represented party, service of every paper later filed in the action must continue to be made on the party, and must also be made on the limited scope attorney for the duration of the limited appearance. At the request of the limited scope attorney, and if circumstances warrant, the court may order service to be made only on the party.
(2) If two or more attorneys represent the same party, service of papers on one of the attorneys is sufficient. An attorney who represents more than one party is entitled to service of only one copy of a paper.
(3) If a party prosecutes or defends the action on his or her own behalf, service of papers must be made on the party in the manner provided by subrule (C).
(C) Manner of Service. Service of a copy of a paper on an attorney must be made by delivery or by mailing to the attorney at his or her last known business address or, if the attorney does not have a business address, then to his or her last known residence address. Service on a party must be made by delivery or by mailing to the party at the address stated in the party’s pleadings.
(1) Delivery to Attorney. Delivery of a copy to an attorney within this rule means
(a) handing it to the attorney personally, or, if agreed to by the parties, e-mailing it to the attorney as allowed under MCR 2.107(C)(4);
(b) leaving it at the attorney’s office with the person in charge or, if no one is in charge or present, by leaving it in a conspicuous place; or
(c) if the office is closed or the attorney has no office, by leaving it at the attorney’s usual residence with some person of suitable age and discretion residing there.
(2) Delivery to Party. Delivery of a copy to a party within this rule means
(a) handing it to the party personally, or, if agreed to by the parties, e-mailing it to the party as allowed under MCR 2.107(C)(4); or
(b) leaving it at the party’s usual residence with some person of suitable age and discretion residing there.
(3) Mailing. Mailing a copy under this rule means enclosing it in a sealed envelope with first class postage fully prepaid, addressed to the person to be served, and depositing the envelope and its contents in the United States mail. Service by mail is complete at the time of mailing.
(4) E-mail. Some or all of the parties may agree to e-mail service among themselves by filing a stipulation in that case. Some or all of the parties may agree to e-mail service by a court by filing an agreement with the court to do so. E-mail service shall be subject to the following conditions:
(a) The stipulation or agreement for service by e-mail shall set forth the e-mail addresses of the parties or attorneys that agree to e-mail service, which shall include the same e-mail address currently on file with the State Bar of Michigan. If an attorney is not a member of the State Bar of Michigan, the e-mail address shall be the e-mail address currently on file with the appropriate registering agency in the state of the attorney’s admission. Parties and attorneys who have stipulated or agreed to service by e-mail under this subsection shall immediately notify all other parties and the court if the party’s or attorney’s e-mail address changes.
(b) The parties shall set forth in the stipulation or agreement all limitations and conditions concerning e-mail service, including but not limited to:
(i) the maximum size of the document that may be attached to an e-mail;
(ii) designation of exhibits as separate documents;
(iii) the obligation (if any) to furnish paper copies of e-mailed documents; and
(iv) the names and e-mail addresses of other individuals in the office of an attorney of record designated to receive e-mail service on behalf of a party.
(c) Documents served by e-mail must be in PDF format or other format that prevents the alteration of the document contents.
(d) A paper served by e-mail that an attorney is required to sign may include the attorney’s actual signature or a signature block with the name of the signatory accompanied by “s/” or “/s/.” That designation shall constitute a signature for all purposes, including those contemplated by MCR 1.109(E).
(e) Each e-mail that transmits a document shall include a subject line that identifies the case by court, party name, case number, and the title or legal description of the document(s) being sent.
(f) An e-mail transmission sent after 4:30 p.m. Eastern Time shall be deemed to be served on the next day that is not a Saturday, Sunday, or legal holiday. Service by e-mail under this subrule is treated as service by delivery under MCR 2.107(C)(1).
(g) A party may withdraw from a stipulation or agreement for service by e-mail if that party notifies the other party or parties and the court in writing at least 28 days in advance of the withdrawal.
(h) Service by e-mail is complete upon transmission, unless the party making service learns that the attempted service did not reach the e-mail address of the intended recipient. If an e-mail is returned as undeliverable, the party, attorney, or court must serve the paper or other document by regular mail under MCR 2.107(C)(3), and include a copy of the return notice indicating that the e-mail was undeliverable. A party, attorney, or court must also retain a notice that the e-mail was undeliverable.
(i) The e-mail sender shall maintain an archived record of sent items that shall not be purged until the conclusion of the case, including the disposition of all appeals.
(D) Proof of Service. Except as otherwise provided by MCR 2.104, 2.105, or 2.106, proof of service of documents required or permitted to be served may be by written acknowledgment of service, or a written statement by the individual who served the documents verified under MCR 1.109(D(3). The proof of service may be included at the end of the document as filed. Proof of service must be filed promptly and at least at or before a hearing to which the document relates.
(E) Service Prescribed by Court. When service of papers after the original complaint cannot reasonably be made because there is no attorney of record, because the party cannot be found, or for any other reason, the court, for good cause on ex parte application, may direct in what manner and on whom service may be made.
(F) Numerous Parties. In an action in which there is an unusually large number of parties on the same side, the court on motion or on its own initiative may order that
(1) they need not serve their papers on each other;
(2) responses to their pleadings need only be served on the party to whose pleading the response is made;
(3) a cross-claim, counterclaim, or allegation in an answer demanding a reply is deemed denied by the parties not served; and
(4) the filing of a pleading and service on an adverse party constitutes notice of it to all parties.
A copy of the order must be served on all parties in the manner the court directs.