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PARKER v. LASALLE BANK | FL 4DCA REVERSED/REMAND “SEWER SERVICE”

PARKER v. LASALLE BANK | FL 4DCA REVERSED/REMAND “SEWER SERVICE”


DISTRICT COURT OF APPEAL OF THE STATE OF FLORIDA
FOURTH DISTRICT

July Term 2011

CATHERINE PAIGE PARKER, et. al.,
Appellants,

v.

LASALLE BANK NATIONAL ASSOCIATION, AS TRUSTEE FOR THE REGISTERED HOLDERS OF THE STRUCTURED ASSET SECURITIES CORPORATION, STRUCTURED ASSET INVESTMENT LOAN TRUST, MORTGAGE PASS-THROUGH CERTIFICATES M SERIES 2003-BC8,
Appellee.

EXCERPT:

This case is more akin to Demars v. Village of Sandalwood Lakes
Homeowners Association, 625 So. 2d 1219 (Fla. 4th DCA 1993). In that
case, a homeowners association filed suit to foreclose o n a lien for
unpaid assessments and obtained judgment. The association attempted
personal service twice at the homeowner’s residence. A tenant at the
residence did not know how to contact the homeowner. To establish a
diligent search for constructive service, the association’s attorney called a
mortgage holder a n d th e power company. Neither would divulge
information over the phone, and the association’s attorney did not follow
up with a letter. The court held the association’s search did not meet the
standards of reasonable diligence because the attorney for the
association did not follow up on any of his inquiries. Therefore, the
constructive service was defective, rendering the judgment of foreclosure
voidable.

In this case, the record reflects only one return of service. According
to the affidavit of diligent search and inquiry, Harris next searched credit
information, directory assistance, motor vehicle records, the post office,
property tax records, national death records, and prison records to try
and locate Parker. However, the affidavit shows the search for Parker
was less than diligent. Regarding efforts to locate Parker at her last
known address (the subject property) is a statement that “Process Server
stated: Tenant occupied.” No indication exists as to when the process
server went to the premises or how h e determined it was “tenant occupied.”

Further, no indication exists that the process server inquired
of the tenant the whereabouts of Parker. Under the section of the
affidavit titled “Inquiry of Neighbors at Last Known Address,” it merely
states: “Unable to contact neighbors,” with no statement as to who made
attempt, or on what dates or any description of any attempt made.
Under the section “Freedom of Information Act Inquiry Made to US Postal
Service,” it says “Requested change of address or boxholder information
[at property address] on 2/19/09. Upon receipt of their response, will
promptly revert,” with no follow-up of any information received from the
post office.

“[P]roof of a few attempts at service of process are insufficient to prove
diligent search.” Demars, 625 So. 2d at 1221. In this case, personal
service was attempted only once. As in Demars, the affidavit of diligent
search filed in this case displays a pattern of failure to follow up on
inquiries and leads that could have revealed Parker’s location. Therefore,
we find LaSalle’s search did not meet the standards of reasonable
diligence. Further, this case is distinguishable from Reina in that Parker
was diligent in pursuing the motion to quash. Parker’s trial counsel filed
a special limited appearance to attack the service of process fourteen
days after entry of final judgment and filed an emergency motion to
quash six days later. Therefore, we reverse, finding the final judgment
entered in this case voidable, and remand for further proceedings.

Reversed and remanded.

WARNER and POLEN, JJ., concur.

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