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RSJ Obtains Published Court of Appeals Decision Clarifying Service of Process on a Foreign Insurance Carrier.

Obtaining proper service of process on an out-of-state insurance company is one of the more technical issues involving lawsuits against insurance companies. Service of process is how a lawsuit is commenced, and therefore how a Court obtains jurisdiction over a Defendant. The controlling statute, Minn. Stat. § 45.028 requires service upon the insurance company's registered agent, by certified mail. The statute also requires the Plaintiff to send a copy of the service letter (or process) upon the Minnesota Commissioner of Commerce, also by certified mail.

This begins the service of process. However, service is not complete unless the Plaintiff also files what is called an "affidavit of compliance". That affidavit must be filed with the District Court before the return day of process, which for a summons and complaint, is 20 days plus three days for mailing.

In this case, the Court recognized the statute's plain meaning that allowed the "affidavit of compliance" to be filed after the presumed statute of limitations, but because the affidavit was filed before the deadline for return process, service was effective under Minn. Stat. § 45.028.

This case provides important clarity to the Plaintiff's bar for service on a foreign insurance company. Many insurers who do not have an agent for service in Minnesota use this statute to trip up the unwary practitioner. Successful service is necessary to achieve jurisdiction, and this case goes a long way to clarify how to do so correctly.

Read the Court's Order here:

Service of Process on a Foreign Insurance Carrier.pdf

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