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If I refuse a Certified/Return Receipt Letter from an attorney, do they have to send a process server?

Portland, OR |

I was recently awarded a judgment from small claims court against a former tenant. Though I doubt I will ever see any money, he is now saying he will sue ME. The grounds aren't important ~ he has none and is just angry that he lost so badly.

I put a considerable amount of time and money into the small claims suit, and if he is going to sue me, I would like him to get a taste of his own medicine: I had to hire a process server to serve the papers after he refused the Certified letters.

He knows where I live, so a skip trace won't be necessary, but if I refuse a Certified letter, will he then be forced to hire a process server? And watch the costs begin to add up....


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Attorney answers 3


No one is reqd to sign for a certified letter. if he is trying to serve you that way, he will have to have someone else serve you. He may have a friend do it and save process serving fees.




ORS 46.445(3) allows for service of a small claims complaint by certified mail. If you don't answer the complaint and the defendant then applies for a default, there will be no one to speak on your behalf and the court may grant the judgment against you, after which it might be you stuck spending money and time on the process. If not, the sheriffs office will serve you for $36, or he can have a friend do it. Not a huge barrier to litigation.

As for the demand letter, there is no requirement that it be served by certified mail. It is only required that the plaintiff attempt to collect the debt before suing. You refusing to accept mail just makes you look like a jerk, if not outright culpable.

Licensed in Oregon. Advice provided is general legal information relevant to the facts provided. It is not intended as legal advice applicable to your specific situation. No attorney/client relationship is created unless and until we have met and entered into a written representation agreement. Contact me at 541-250-0542 to discuss your matter further.

Robert Bruce Kopelson

Robert Bruce Kopelson


Does the statute require you to sign for it, or is just sending it certified enough?

Robert Lloyd Mauger Jr

Robert Lloyd Mauger Jr


I'd say that it has to be received to be "successfully accomplished." That said, small claims department tends to make its own rules, and I think on balance I'd recommend answering your mail and the claim (especially if it is meritless) rather than fighting about process following a default judgment. Or at very least call the county clerk in charge to see what they might share. The statute: "If service by certified mail is not *successfully accomplished,* the notice and claim shall be served in the manner provided for the service of summons and complaint in proceedings in the circuit courts."

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