Service of process on foreign corporations in Georgia
From time to time we encounter problems in obtaining service of process on corporations based outside Georgia. In GMAC Mortgage Corp. v. Bongiorno, Case No. A06A0053, decided January 23, 2006, the Court of Appeals reasserted that service may be made not just on a registered agent, but on “the president or other officer of the corporation, secretary, cashier, managing agent, or other agent thereof.” Judge Johnson wrote for the court as follows:
Pursuant to OCGA § 9-11-4 (e) (1), an action against a foreign corporation may be served on “the president or other officer of the corporation, secretary, cashier, managing agent, or other agent thereof.” GMAC argues that the above-referenced individuals may only be used for service of process if the foreign corporation has failed to designate a registered agent for service of process. However, OCGA § 9-11-4 (e) (2) directly contradicts such an argument. That Code Section specifically states, “If the action is against a foreign corporation . . . doing business and having a managing or other agent, cashier, or secretary within this state, [service may be made] to such agent, cashier, or secretary or to an agent designated for service of process.”
Several years ago we sued a Georgia limited partnership organized in Curacao and based in New Jersey that had never bothered to appoint a registered agent in Georgia. The only agent they had designated in Georgia was the maintenace man at an apartment complex, who was listed as agent on a county business license application. We served the maintenance man who faxed something to the home office but apparently not everything. The case went into default, we took a default judgment for $186,000, and waited for the balloon payment on the mortgage to come due the next year. When the defendant moved to vacate the default judgment, the court ruled that our service on the maintenance man was sufficient and we collected the judgment with interest.
The Shigley Law Firm represents plaintiffs in wrongful death and catastrophic injury cases statewide in Georgia, and in other states subject to the multijurisdictional practice and pro hac vice rules in each state. Ken Shigley was designated as a “SuperLawyer” in Atlanta Magazine and one of the “Legal Elite” in Georgia Trend Magazine. He is a Certified Civil Trial Advocate of the National Board of Trial Advocacy, Chair of the Southeastern Motor Carrier Liability Institute and former chair of the Georgia Insurance Law Institute. He particularly focuses on cases arising from truck wrecks and accidents (tractor trailers truck wrecks, semi truck wrecks,18 wheeler truck wrecks, big rig truck wrecks, log truck wrecks, dump truck wrecks).