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AFT Michigan v. Veritas

United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division

December 6, 2017

AFT MICHIGAN Plaintiff,
v.
PROJECT VERITAS, a foreign corporation, and MARISA L. JORGE, a/k/a MARISSA JORGE, a/k/a MARISSA PEREZ, Defendants.

          OPINION AND ORDER GRANTING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO CONFIRM JURISDICTION OR TO PERMIT SUBSTITUTED SERVICE

          LINDA V. PARKER U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE

         Plaintiff, AFT Michigan, initiated this lawsuit on or about September 28, 2017 in the Third Circuit Court for the County of Wayne, Michigan. (ECF No. 1 at Pg ID 1.) On October 6, 2017, Defendants Project Veritas (“Defendant PV”) and Marisa L. Jorge, a/k/a Marissa Jorge, a/k/a Marissa Perez (“Defendant Jorge”) filed a Notice of Removal to this Court. (Id.) Plaintiff filed an Amended Complaint in state court on October 5, 2017 and a Second Amended Complaint in this Court on October 17, 2017. (ECF No. 1 at Pg ID 2; ECF No. 6.) Plaintiff alleges Defendant Jorge is a political actor for Defendant PV and gained access to AFT Michigan by fraudulently misrepresenting herself as a student at the University of Michigan. Plaintiff believes Defendant Jorge unlawfully accessed and transmitted proprietary and confidential information and engaged in unlawful and unauthorized surveillance of Plaintiff's employees. (ECF No. 6 at Pg ID 91.) Presently before the Court is Plaintiff's Motion to Confirm Jurisdiction or to Permit Substituted Service, filed on November 2, 2017. (ECF No. 26.) Defendants filed a response on November 16, 2017, and Plaintiff filed a reply on November 29, 2017. (ECF Nos. 32 & 38.) Plaintiff seeks a determination that Defendant Jorge has either waived her objections to service, or, in the alternative, for leave to serve Defendant Jorge by substitution through her counsel. For the reasons stated below, the Court grants Plaintiff's motion.

         Background

         According to Plaintiff, Defendant PV is an organization that uses its employees to infiltrate organizations for the purpose of securing proprietary information, which it distorts and publishes in the media. (ECF No. 6 at Pg ID 95.) Plaintiff believes Defendant Jorge is a political operative for Defendant PV and gained access to AFT Michigan to advance Defendant PV's political agenda. (Id. at Pg ID 96.)

         Plaintiff initiated this lawsuit on September 28, 2017 in the Third Circuit Court for the County of Wayne, Michigan. (ECF No. 1.) On September 29, 2017, Third Circuit Court Judge Brian R. Sullivan issued a Temporary Restraining Order enjoining Defendants from publishing or disclosing confidential and/or proprietary information relating to Plaintiff, its employees, officers, or affiliates that was taken from Plaintiff without consent. (ECF No. 23). Defendants filed a Notice of Removal to this Court, and the case was assigned to Judge Paul D. Borman. On October 20, 2017, this matter was reassigned to the undersigned. (ECF No. 10.)

         Applicable Law & Analysis

         “[I]n determining the validity of service in the state court prior to removal, a federal court must apply the law of the state. After removal, then federal law governs and defects in service can be cured pursuant to § 1448.” Hertel v. Mortg. Elec. Registration Sys., No. 12-cv-174, 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 143598, at *10 (W.D. Mich. 2012) (quoting 4A Wright & Miller, Federal Practice and Procedure § 1082).

         28 U.S.C. § 1448 provides:

In all cases removed from any State court to any district court of the United States in which any one or more of the defendants has not been served with process or in which the service has not been perfected prior to removal, or in which process served proves to be defective, such process or service may be completed or new process issued in the same manner as in cases originally filed in such district court.

         In accordance with the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, service of the summons and complaint may be accomplished pursuant to Michigan law or by:

(A) delivering a copy of the summons and of the complaint to the individual personally;
(B) leaving a copy of each at the individual's dwelling or usual place of abode with someone of suitable age and discretion who resides there; or
(C) delivering a copy of each to an agent authorized by appointment or by law to receive service of process.

Fed. R. Civ. P. 4(e). In addition to the method described in subsection (A), Michigan law allows for service on an individual by “sending a summons and a copy of the complaint by registered or certified mail, return receipt requested, and delivery restricted to the addressee.” MCR 2.105(A)(2). For a nonresident, substituted serviced may be made by serving a copy of the summons and complaint in Michigan on an agent, or an individual authorized to accept service for the defendant, and ...


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