United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle
BARBARO ROSAS and GUADALUPE TAPIA, as individuals and on behalf of all other similarly situated persons, Plaintiffs,
SARBANAND FARMS, LLC, MUNGERBROS., LLC., NIDIA PEREZ, and CSI VISA PROCESSING S.C., Defendants.
HONORABLE JOHN C. COUGHENOUR JUDGE.
matter comes before the Court on Plaintiffs' motion to
serve Defendant CSI Visa Processing S.C. pursuant to Federal
Rule of Civil Procedure 4(f)(3) (Dkt. No. 14). Having
thoroughly considered the unopposed motion and the relevant
record, the Court hereby GRANTS the motion for the reasons
bring a putative class action on behalf of approximately 600
Mexican farm workers for alleged labor law violations during
the 2017 blueberry harvest in Sumas, Washington. (Dkt. No. 14
at 1.) Plaintiffs have personally served both grower
Defendants and seek Court leave to serve Defendant CSI Visa
Processing S.C. (“CSI S.C.”), a Mexican farm
labor contractor, by mail to CSI S.C.'s employee based in
Olympia, Washington and by service on U.S.
counsel. (Id.) Plaintiffs assert that the
alternative option-service through the Hague Convention-would
involve a year's delay and approximately $3, 000 in
costs. (Id.) No. Defendant opposed or otherwise
responded to Plaintiffs' present motion.
Rules of Civil Procedure 4(h)(2) and 4(f)(3) allow for
service of process on a foreign business entity by
“means not prohibited by international agreement, as
the court orders.” Service provided for under Rule
4(f)(3) is not a “last resort, ” but rather one
of several options a plaintiff has to serve an international
defendant. Rio Props., Inc. v. Rio Int'l
Interlink, 284 F.3d 1007, 1015 (9th Cir. 2002). A
district court has discretion to determine “when the
particularities and necessities of a given case require
alternate service of process under Rule 4(f)(3).”
Id. at 1016. Upon finding alternative service
appropriate, a court must determine that the proposed means
of service are “reasonably calculated . . . to apprise
interested parties of the pendency of the action and afford
them an opportunity to present their objections. Id.
Alternative Service under FRPC 4(f)(3)
Court finds that the particularities of this case require
alternate service under Rule 4(f)(3). Plaintiffs' initial
complaint named CSI USA, a company with the same personnel as
CSI, S.C., but registered in the state of Washington. (Dkt.
No. 14 at 2.) Plaintiffs made repeated attempts to serve CSI
USA at its Washington address before CSI USA's counsel,
Adam Belzberg, agreed to accept service. (Id. at 4.)
Upon consulting with Mr. Belzberg, Plaintiffs amended their
complaint to substitute CSI S.C. for CSI USA. (Id.
at 5.) Mr. Belzberg declined to accept or waive service on
behalf of CSI S.C., stating that he represented only CSI USA.
(Id.) Plaintiffs represent that effecting service of
process on CSI S.C. in Mexico will take approximately one
year and cost approximately $3, 000. (Id. at 1.)
Given Plaintiffs' attempts to effect service in the U.S.,
the close relationship between CSI S.C. and CSI USA, and the
Court's interest in efficiently advancing this class
action litigation, the Court finds alternative service under
Rule 4(f)(3) necessary here.
result is not precluded by the Hague Convention, which does
not come into force where “valid service [can occur] in
the United States.” Brown v. China Integrated
Energy, Inc., 285 F.R.D. 560, 564 (C.D. Cal. 2012)
(citing Volkswagenwerk Aktiengesellschaft v.
Schlunk, 486 U.S. 694, 707 (1988).
Means of Alternative Service Comport with Due
proposed means of alternative service are reasonably
calculated to provide notice to CSI S.C. and to it provide an
opportunity to present objections. See Rio Props.,
284 F.3d at 1016. Plaintiffs propose service on Mr. Belzberg,
attorney for CSI USA, and Roxana Macias, employee of CSI USA
and CSI S.C. An individual served on behalf of a
foreign defendant need not “[represent] them or [be]
authorized to accept service on their behalf.”
Brown, 285 F.R.D. at 566. Service on a U.S. agent is
reasonable if it is “reasonably certain to inform those
affected.” Mullane v. Central Hanover Bank &
Trust Co., et al., 339 U.S. 306, 315 (1950).
on Mr. Belzberg and Ms. Macias is reasonably certain to
inform CSI S.C. of the pending lawsuit. Mr. Belzberg has
stated that he represents only CSI, USA, which “has
never been used for anything.” (Dkt. No. 14 at 4, 5.)
However, he has communicated with CSI S.C. about the pending
lawsuit, he knows CSI's legal position regarding waiver
or authorization of service, and he has provided CSI S.C.
with a copy of the amended complaint. (Dkt. No. 14 at 7.) Mr.
Belzberg has further represented that CSI S.C. and CSI USA
are “the same owners; the same people.”
(Id.) This is reflected in the Ms. Macias paperwork
filed to form CSI Visa Processing, USA, LLC. (Dkt. No. 14 at
3.) The filing lists Guillermo Mathus and Tania de la Fuente
as the two other executors of the company. (Id.) Mr.
Mathus is also the president of CSI S.C. and de la Fuente is
the general manager for the company, which has been active in
Washington since at least 2012. (Id.) Service on Mr.
Belzberg and Ms. Macias is reasonably calculated under these
circumstances, to apprise CSI S.C. of the pendency of the
action and to afford a full and fair opportunity to respond.
Accord Rio Props., 284 F.3d at 1017 (service on
U.S.-based attorney was appropriate where he had been
consulted by the defendant about the suit and was clearly in
contact with the defendant).
foregoing reasons, Plaintiffs' motion for alternative
service (Dkt. No. 14) is GRANTED. Plaintiffs may serve CSI
S.C.'s Washington-based employee, Roxana Macias, by
first-class U.S. mail at her address ...