Q: Does waiting for surgery in a nursing home constitute normal place of residence
A person has been waiting for surgery for nine months. For one month he was unaware that his fractured hip surgery had become undone. He saw a trauma surgeon at a tertiary and he was advised of this separation and was referred to adult reconstructive surgery, he has to wait three months to see a surgeon. He was advised that reconstructive surgery was necessary. The earliest surgery was three months forward. The patient remained in the nursing home until the date of surgery. Two weeks prior to the surgery date, he was served with a summons and complaint which was left at the nursing home. Is there proper service and is nursing home considered his usual place of residence?
A: Rule 4j requires the summons and complaint be served either directly to the person or left with somone of suitable age and discretion at his "dwelling place or usual place of abode". Due to the person's length of time staying at the nursing facility, I think this would be proper service. If a default judgment was entered because the papers were left with a staff member who failed to deliver them to the person, under the circumstances an attorney should be able to help get the judgment set aside. In order to do that the person would need to show a "meretorious defense" to the allegations in the Complaint. Financial harship or inability to pay is typically not a "meretirious defense" to a collections lawsuit. Contact an attorney for some more personalized and specific advice.
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