Can the court rule against me for not appearing when I have never been properly served?
2 attorney answers
Service is appropriate if done at the last and usual address for you. If she and the sheriff/constable have asserted service on that basis, without knowing anything to the contrary, yes, the court will default you. Then you are in the position of moving to vacate the default for the reasons stated in Rule 60 of the Rules of Civil Procedure.
But as my colleague points out, you seem to have some notice of the case. I would not risk the default nor risk the inability to get a motion to vacate allowed because you have some notice. If you have defenses, both on the merits (since you believe the case to be frivolous) or jurisdiction (because you are out of the country for some time), then assert them in an answer. Get a local attorney here to assess this for you and assist you with the case.
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The rules of service do not exist to give you something to hide behind or play games with. If you have not been served, then how do you know about the hearing?
In theory, if you were not served correctly and do not have notice of a hearing, then the matter should not proceed against you in your absence. But in this case, it sounds like you're playing games, and if you actually do have notice of the hearing, then the hearing may be able to continue. I can't give you a complete answer about this without knowing your connection to her, the case, the state of Massachusetts, why you're out of the country, how long you're away, etc. Jurisdiction can be a tricky issue sometimes.
If you know about the hearing, I suggest you attend, or at least hire an attorney to review the paperwork and advise you better.
Be aware that this response does not create an attorney/client relationship. I live and work in Massachusetts and may or may not know the local laws where you live. I hope people find my responses not only helpful but somewhat entertaining as well. If you rely on this as legal advice, remember the old saying, "You get what you pay for."