To settle 113 accounts of a common trust fund, Appellee notified nonresident beneficiaries of the proceeding through publication in a local newspaper, as required by New York law. Appellant argued that this was insufficient notice because the beneficiaries had not been personally served.
A chosen method for service of process is constitutional if notice will reasonably reach a defendant with enough time for the defendant to respond.
A New York bank (Appellee) filed a petition to settle 113 accounts of a common trust fund. For nonresident beneficiaries, the Appellee served the beneficiaries through publication in a local newspaper, as required by New York law. The guardian of these beneficiaries (Appellant) argued that this was insufficient notice because the beneficiaries had not been personally served.
Was service of process through publication constitutional?
Yes, service of process through publication was constitutional for Appellants with unknown addresses. But service of process through publication was not constitutional for Appellants whose whereabouts are known. The decision of Court of Appeals is reversed and remanded.
Service of process must comply with the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, providing defendants with reasonable notice of the lawsuit. The Court determined that sufficient notice meant conveying the required information in a manner reasonably likely to reach the defendant and give them time to respond. For defendants with unknown addresses, the Court did not require plaintiffs to go beyond due diligence in trying to find them. For defendants with known addresses, publication was not reasonably likely to reach the defendants.