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“You’ve Been Served”: Shaquille O’Neal & Evading Service

Feb 13 | 2024  by

Last year, I read multiple articles regarding the lawsuit FTX investors filed in which multiple celebrities were named as Defendants (for one reason or another). While the lawsuit itself is trying to solve a colossal mess, before they can even get started, lawyers must serve all the named defendants. Despite all the scandalous factual allegations, the most interesting was Shaquille O’Neal evading service.

According to the lawyers representing FTX investors, multiple attempts were made to serve Shaq at his home and outside TNT studios, his place of employment. The situation dragged on for months making lawyers so desperate that on one occasion they “tossed legal papers at [Shaq’s] fast-breaking SUV”. While it’s pretty humorous that a 7-foot-tall celebrity was able to hide from a process server, it still poses many concerns.

For regular people, the concept of service and evasion of service is difficult to easily understand – or come to terms with its frustrating nature. However, it’s tied to your constitutional right to due process. So, while aggravating, lawyers had to spend time and money on countless attempts at service (or risk having their complaint dismissed because of someone’s childish antics).

Service and Evasion of Service

While every state has laws related to service, here in Michigan, attorneys largely rely on Michigan Court Rule 2.105 (with exceptions) for guidance. The rules differ depending on whether the defendant is a person, company, or some other type of legal entity.

Therefore, after a lawsuit is filed in the state of Michigan, the court will issue you a summons, i.e., the document that “summons” a defendant into court. Thereafter, the summons and complaint must be properly served within 91 days of issuance.

Essentially, the rules allow for personal service; service by mail; service by publication; and posting in the appropriate courthouse. Michigan courts have also weighed in on what they think constitutes proper service.

Don’t Work Alone | Call Fausone & Grysko, PLC

However, as the tale of what I will call, “The Serving of Shaq” proves, the rules are not cut and dry and there’s a lot of room for error. In this case, the lawyers and their process servers knew where Shaq lived; knew where he worked; and knew his every move. Yet, it still took them months and multiple court appearances to achieve service. Lest we forget the time Olivia Wilde was served custody papers during a CinemaCon presentation. In my opinion, who can blame these process servers?

Whatever the case, don’t go about yours alone. If you’ve been served or think you’ve been served, contact Denise Medina at Fausone & Grysko, PLC. Denise can be reached at (248) 380-0000.