Proof Of Service (POS) is documented proof that a legal document or pleading has been delivered and properly served upon the proper party(s). POS must be served by a third-party. POS is always very important for each required step in a successful lawsuit or (at least a partial) recovery of a judgment. In California, some relevant laws are CCP 17, CCP 412.20, CCP 415, CCP 412.10, CCP 420, and CCP 422.10, and government codes 22 and 26660.
This article is my opinion, and not legal advice. I am a judgment broker, and am not a lawyer. If you ever need any legal advice or a strategy to use, please contact a lawyer.
If your judgment debtor is served with any name different from that on the judgment, the proof of service may be rejected. This problem can come up when the debtor uses more than one name, with AKAs (Also Known As). For example, Dan Debtor was sued to get your judgment, and you find out later he owns no assets in that name; and he owns available assets in his AKA name of Daniel DebtorMan. If the POS for any post-judgment document or pleading names anyone besides Dan Debtor, it will be rejected by the court.
Proof Of Service needs to be served on a person authorized to accept service. The lawsuit must name the correct parties exactly correctly. If your judgment debtor uses an AKA, depending on your state, a motion for an affidavit of identity with some proof of the use of their AKA name, might let you get the judgment amended to include that AKA. Note that generally, you cannot add additional parties to a judgment, only AKAs of the judgment debtor. Without an affidavit of identity or the equivalent getting done, you can (this does not always work) attach a short declaration of the AKA with the paperwork package; however the name on the proof of service must exactly match the name as listed on the summons of the lawsuit, and as is named on the judgment.
There is a legal difference between filing a document at a court, and getting a document issued by the court. If a court rejects your POS because a party was not named properly, that is the best time and way to discover this kind of problem. Of course, you could choose to resist the clerk’s rejection. However, it is important to pick your battles carefully, and instead understand and appreciate why the court rejected your POS.
Generally, if a person filing a document believes their document is correct, however a court clerk refuses to file it; they can probably ask the clerk to “demand file” it. The clerk stamps the document “received” instead of “filed” and then stamps the document with “filed on demand”, often in red ink, and often a judge will later review the document and make a judicial decision regarding the lawful filing of it.
The worst time and way to discover a POS naming problem is to have your lawsuit dismissed by the court, or for a POS issue to cause a big post-judgment levy to fail. In a pre-judgment AKA name situation, an amendment to the original complaint could correct the problem. It is a good idea to discover all known AKAs of your defendant before you sue them.