Serving a Lawsuit in Denver or Colorado after It Has Been Filed
After analyzing and determining which level of court in Denver or Colorado to file a lawsuit in, and actually filing a lawsuit, the next step is to serve the lawsuit on the opposing party. Serving the lawsuit on the opposing party is one of the most important steps in properly initiating the lawsuit. If the opposing party is improperly served or never served, then the lawsuit will be dismissed without the Plaintiff ever having the chance to litigate their claims and recover from the Defendant.
Serving the lawsuit on the opposing party has two main purposes: first, it gives the other party notice that a lawsuit has been initiated; and second, it gives the court jurisdiction over that party. This type of jurisdiction is called personal jurisdiction and is necessary for the court to be able to render a judgment affecting the other party. Accordingly, since service of the lawsuit is an important aspect in initiating a lawsuit, the lawsuit must be personally served on the other party, meaning that it cannot be simply be mailed to the other party but instead, must actually be handed to or given to the other party.
The Colorado Rules of Civil Procedure (“C.R.C.P.”) govern how service must be made, or effected on the other party. Generally speaking, if the party is a person, as opposed to a company or business, the lawsuit must be either handed to them, left at their place of work with an appropriate person, or left at their residence with a family member who is over 18 years old. See C.R.C.P. 4. With some exceptions, if service is not performed in this manner it is not considered effective and the lawsuit may be dismissed.
Alternatively, if the other party is a business entity, service can be performed on the party by delivering a copy of the lawsuit to the registered agent, which is listed on the business’s filings with the Colorado Secretary of State. Additionally, service can be performed on a business or company by leaving the lawsuit with specific employees of that company, for example, an officer of the company, a general partner of the company, or their secretary or administrative assistant. More complicated rules for service exist if the other party is a government entity or organization.
When serving the lawsuit, a copy of the Complaint and the Summons must be given to the opposing party in conformance with the requirements discussed above. See C.R.C.P. 3, 4. If personal service is appropriately effected on the other party, the person who performed the service must fill out an affidavit of service swearing to who they served and the manner in which they served him or her. The affidavit must be filed with the court as proof that service occurred.
Notably, a party to the lawsuit is not allowed to serve the other party directly; instead, an individual without any interest in the lawsuit must perform the service. Accordingly, process servers, process serving companies, and sheriffs are frequently used to meet this requirement.