Process Server Nearly Killed, Kid’s Head Almost Cut Off by Enraged Homeowner Facing Foreclosure

Sewer Service

Process Servers Say Foreclosure Crisis Puts Them in Greater Danger

Process server Michael Root says that he knows how angry foreclosure notices can make homeowners — because one property owner almost killed him and members of his family.

As it turned out, Root wasn’t even bringing a foreclosure notice when, he said, he was attacked in June by a homeowner in Wingdale, N.Y.; it was a notice about a credit card bill. But according to Root, the man didn’t know that and he’d already been served notice of foreclosure on his home by another process server that day.

The man became so enraged at another legal notice, Root said, that he jumped on a nearby backhoe and drove it into Root’s car. “He raised the bucket and pushed it through the back window and almost cut my kid’s head off,” added Root, who said that he happened to have his wife and daughter with him that day.

That alleged attack — which resulted in criminal charges against the homeowner — is the kind of mayhem that process servers say they commonly confront as the messengers in our legal system. Although violence toward process servers has always been a problem, because they so often bring gloom to people’s doorsteps, those in the industry claim that the risks of their profession have only gotten worse as the housing crisis has pushed 4 million mortgage-holders out of their homes.

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15 Responses to “Process Server Nearly Killed, Kid’s Head Almost Cut Off by Enraged Homeowner Facing Foreclosure”
  1. Ameila says:

    I can’t believe this guy didn’t have the good sense to leave his family home! Emotions run deep when people are served papers and this is a very tricky process not knowing what exactly you will encounter. Being cautious is always part of this process.

  2. Jan van Eck says:

    Some States have dispensed with “private process servers” because of the abuses these guys do, and require the sole hiring of a “marshal” [formerly called a sheriff} as a court officer, with a State-set cost structure, to do “Service.” The reason is that a Marshal is an officer of the Court, and is not going to falsify service of process where none took place. Private process servers have the tendency to NOT serve anything, and file an affidavit of service saying that they did. To no surprise, that results in a ‘default” for the presumed recipient. Then it becomes “your word against his word” and you get these abuses.

    The bigger problem area is the Federal Courts, which allow use of these private servers. If the “server” is being paid $20 to do service on someone 40 miles away, do you seriously think he is going to drive all the way out there on the outside chance the recipient named on the papers is actually on deck (and comes to the door)? And back? That $20 does not even cover the fuel bill. So you get “sewer service.” If it is “personal service,” who is to say that the person came to the door, or will? Remember the “server” is a private individual, not a court officer, so he can and will flat-out lie. The further problem, remembering the economics of “servers,” is that the recruits to that industry these days are from the criminal underclass. Going out to “serve” in a rural area? House shielded by trees from the neighbors? Nobody home? No problem; jimmy the door with a tire iron, steal whatever is lying around in 30 seconds, and take off. If the cops stop you somewhere else, hey, you are a “process server” and yes, you were there (somebody saw the plate and called it in), but no, when you were there, there was nobody home. The cops do not go look in your trunk. Perfect cover for a criminal. That is Exactly the type of person being attracted to the process-server field: liars and criminals.

    • Jeff says:

      Jan van Eck… Really some states? Which states? Name one! You can’t because it is simply not true. Do you have idea what you are talking about? How many services do you think take place annually in the USA that are performed by private process servers? Many millions. Are there stories about a handful of bad actors? Yes, in Florida and NYC and those folks were dealt with, perhaps not a severely as I would like especially in Florida. You make it would as though there is a massive problem. Yet you cite no evidence and use false statements to make you argument. Your comments about the Federal Courts could not be more off base. Perhaps you don’t know that in the Federal Courts by comparison to the state court there are very few service of process transactions and of those service events even fewer are served by private process servers. That is because parties in Federal cases are encouraged to mail the summons and complaint along with an acknowledgment. If the intended recipient refuses to acknowledge they can be required to pay the cost incurred by the initiated party to perform the physical service of process. Why does the Federal system encourage notice and acknowledgment you ask? It was instituted as a cost savings measure. Did you also know that in some states process servers are finger printed, licensed, bonded and that there background is checked by the Department of Justice? Somehow I doubt criminals and liars are attracted given all the oversight. It is true that in many states there is no regulation. But that does not mean that fraud is rampant.

  3. Mark Bowen says:

    Process Servers, stop serving summonses on victims of fraud and other abuses. You’ll have plenty of opportunities to serve once the tables are turned against the corrupt, corporate statist, judges and rule of court and criminal statute violating attorneys. There, problem solved. See how easy that was?

  4. bobbi swann says:

    Sorry to all of you but this Florida gal has very little respect for process servers, especially of late. Here in Florida we have one of the worse set of guidelines for process servers where lying and forgery top the list in favor of monetary greed. And paaaleeeze, don’t tell me about how they are serving the community and saving taxpayer dollars. Really! My office is in my home and therefore I am there the majority of the time. When I was served with foreclosure it was at a time that I was not a home. On the first serve, that idiot left bright orange colored notices on all of my front windows!!! Told me that I had to sign for the second person on title that was not living in my home. When I told him that he did not live at this address (it was my son-in-law and he lived with his wife, my daughter, elsewhere) he called me a liar and left the set of papers on my porch. Needless to say, this was one of the items presented in my Motion to Dismiss.

    • pam28971 says:

      @bobbi swann I agree there are some real doozies out there.Wa stste is a non judicial state and the process servers here have little to no respect for themselves or the clients that they serve for.Mine took place with me standing there at 10:00 on a Saturday morning with my front door open and watching the guy tack the notices to my house.Whaen I walked outside and said”sir I am at home no need to go to all that work and holes in the house just come to the door I will sign for the papers”.He took off like a scared rabbitt and ran.Guess thats why there are proffesionals and non professionals.

  5. G-man says:

    Dear Ms. Edwards.

    While I agree with you on your assement of danger, I think your comments referring to the server as “stuck on stupid”, “an idiot”, or having a “self made death wish”, are out of line.

    While I agree that taking family members (or any non-server for that matter) is generally not a good idea, without further information pertaining to “why” the server had family with him, I think I would have chosen to stick with “it’s a bad idea”, and leave out the name calling.

    As far as “pushing good people too far”, it doesn’t sound to me as though the defendant in the matter was an inherrantly “good person.” It is apparent to me from the post, that this “good person,” was being pursued by more than one creditor. While a poor financial situation doesn’t automatically make one a “bad person”, bad choices do.

    Choosing to take a backhoe after a process server, was a bad choice!
    It would seem to me, that this person is by nature, a bad individual, and the circumstances simply exasperated his bad behavior!

    As you and everyone else can see from this blog, there are means to deal with negligent foreclosure (and other collection issues), that do not include the use of violence. Since the foreclosure debacle, more and more attorneys are getting on the Defendant’s rights bandwagon daily.

    People need to realize, that whatever the problem, the process server didn’t create it!

    Had the defendant chosen to do this to a LEO, he most likely wouldn’t have had to worrry about credit card and mortgageg payments for long. Alternatively, had he survived, his ensuing medical bills would have made his situation considerably worse!

    Process service, once a domain exclusive to the Sheriff, is now more than not, dominated by the private sector. More and more law enforcement agencies are getting away from the service of non-enforceable process due to manpower and budget shortfalls, and rightfully so.

    In the beginning of my post law enforcement career, when it was just me, myself and I doing the serving, I took my kids with me on a few occasions, when I had no other option.

    Even then the only time I would take them was if the service being made was a “professional” service, ie: a doctors office, law firm or other professional place of business. I would NEVER consider taking them to a private party service at a home, due to the inherrant risks.

    It’s kind of funny though, that about two years ago, I had a doctor, a PROFESSIONAL, go completely off his rocker, after a simple records subpoena service. This idiot came out screaming and threatening me, in a room full of his own patients!! (lol).

    Not the easily intimidated type, but wishing to avoid a conflict, I chose to simply wish him a “good day” and leave his office.

    This moron ran out of his office after, fists balled up and the papers in one hand. As he charged me, I turned toward him and suggested that he “might want to go back inside.”
    He threw the papers off of the 2nd floor, and hastily returned back to the hole he called an office.
    Needless to say, this was personal service.

    I’ve had attorney’s and their office managers react similarly in the past.
    In the recent past, the office manager from one attorney, who was a former client, made a false 911 call to the Sheriff, stating that there was a “stranger stalking thier office” and they were “in fear.”

    The fact of the matter was, this knucklehad was being sued by his former partner and everyone knew it. Our agency formerly worked for both parties, and I knew all of the parties and thier staff personally! Yet she chose to blatantly lie to the 911 operator, placing both the responding officers and innocent citizens in jeopardy, just to facilitate their own need.

    Thinking back on everthing, and based on these two incidences, I probably would now have to reconsider taking the kids on a even a professional service.

    I have taken my wife with me on a few occasions, usually because we were headed elsewhere, and the defendant’s residence was on the way.
    After 20+ years in this business, I generally have some idea of the level of danger associated with a service. That said, I don’t get “lazy”, and on occasion, have had my wife assume the drivers position, with specific instructions that should things go badly, she needs to get out of the area immediately, and call 911. I’ll take care of myself. In a couple of occasions, I’ve even had her wait at the end of the road, and I’ve walked out to her after perfecting the service.

    I have been physically attacked (actually had someone place thier hands on me) twice in my career. On both occasions, it failed to work out well for the attacker.

    In one of those occasions, the “attacker” was an off duty Temple Terrace Police Officer, who attempted to obstruct the service of process on his co-habitant/girlfriend (?).

    He threatened to “arrest me” if I refused to leave the property. When I explained to him that he was in Brandon, and that last I checked, Temple Terrace hadn’t annexed that far out into the county, he claimed he had the “authority” based on the states “mutual aid ” agreement, and threatened to call the Sheriff.

    What he didn’t realize (and I never brought up) was the fact that I was at the time, still a fully sworn LEO, and was well aware of the mutual aid agreement. This event was not covered under such an agreement.

    When I offered to call the Sheriff’s Office for him, and began to walk away to wait for their arrival, he placed his hand on my arm and pushed me, telling me to “get off of his property!”
    All this while I was on the phone with the 911 operator.

    While I would have preferred to lay this guy out on his lawn, and let hime awaken looking up at the medics, I choose to tell the 911 dispatcher the events, leave the property (I stoood on the opposite side of the road from the house), and await the LEO’s arrival.

    I have to give much credit to the responding HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY Sheriff’s deputies and supervisors on this matter. Unlike some of the previous occasions we’ve had to deal with them in a “line of duty” matter, they were this time very professional, unbiased, and helpful.
    In the end, service was perfected, and all was good with the world.

    I have had a couple of my servers attacked more than a few times in the past few years.

    The biggest problem faced, at least in Hillsborough, Pinellas and Pasco County area, are the attitudes of the States Attorneys and the courts/Judges.

    While the Sheriff’s Office in PINELLAS County WILL charge a party with the appropriate crime, The HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY SHERIFF’S OFFICE has more times than not, refusd to take calls for assistance from process servers seriously.

    I recently had a defendant threaten one of my servers with deadly force.
    The responding deputy was less than enthuiastic about the matter, and refused to take any action whatsoever. Had it been one of their own, the defendant would have been “cuffed and stuffed” quicker than you can say Dunkin’ Donuts!

    While performing their duties, process servers in Florida are covered under the same statute that covers obstructing an officer (with or without violence).
    In Pinellas County, the Sheriff”s Deputy that responded to the last attack on one of my servers, charged the perpetrator with Battery on a LEO. Kudo’s to the Deputy!

    It’s unfortunate that, in the few cases that are submitted by law enforcement, the States Attorney in general, especially in Hillsborough County, refuses to prosecute. Until we get more support from those agencies, not much is going to change.

    The bottom line is this.

    It’s up to us as process servers, to do what we can to minimize the threat.
    Use your head. Don’t just drop and walk off. Make yourself human. Gather some knowledge of the options available to the defendant’s and don’t be afraid to provide this information to them. Not legal advise, just contact names/numbers/references. You’d be surprised how many times I’ve turned a hostile contact into a “thank you”, and “I’m sorry for the way I acted”, simply by providing some options, and not appearing to be the “bad guy.”

    People are becoming more agitated, more stressed out as the economy continues to tank, home prices continue to fall, and the job market continues to shrink.
    Add to this the revelation that the Banks, Mortgage Companies, LEGAL COMMUNITY, and even the COURTS, have been performing shoddy, potentially criminal work, all for their personal gain, and you have the recipe for disaster. Add negligent/criminal process servers to the mix, and the entire thing collapses. It’s really no wonder people distrust the system. Those vested with upholding it’s sanctity, have given them no reason to do so.

    The more professional we are as a community, the better off we will all be in the end.

    Stay safe!

    • pam28971 says:

      @G-man,I thank you sir for your response to my remarks,having said that perhaps my remarks were somewhat off base.My concern level was for the child and spouse involved in this paticular article.I’m sure there are a lot of good process servers and I have run into a few and it is like you said the good one’s are human and can somewhat empathise with the people they are serving and work to diffuse volitile situations.The rest don’t deserve to have thier jobs and are in my estimation hacks so to speak.The police as far as I’m concerned are as “useless as teats on a boar hog” as my grandmother would have said.I have had them act worse than some process servers.Thier are good and bad in every walk of life whether it be lawyers,doctors,process servers, or just regular people.My remarks were because of this gentleman’s personal choice to place not only his spouse but his child no less in a situation where a common sense person would have said”you know this isn’t professional so don’t let me do it”. I don’t see that it is good idea to involve innocent parties in a proffesional workplace inviroment where they have a high risk of becomind a statistic,especially not a child.There is enough going on right now to support this.Bad choices are made everyday and by almost everyone including myself.An adult can make the choice to ride along or stand at the end of a road until the job is done.A child not so much,I’m sure had the choice been given to the child who almost got his/her head chopped off they probably would’ve opted not to ride alongKids are pretty down to earth and resolute about things.I do appreciate your insight to an industry that few people have a concept for and I do stand corrected for my remarks.May this find you and yours having a blessed Christmas season.Regards,Pamela Edwards.

    • J. Alonzo says:

      Process servers, suck balls!

  6. Sarah says:

    Don’t backhoe the messenger, invite him inside for coffee, he’s a working stiff trying to pay his bills too. Encourage him to seek a raise for hazardous duty, educate him on why the Financial sector is today’s invading army and the weapon is debt, and the motivation is syndicated internationally. Today, liars loans are condoned by an authority that is as savage and indifferent as any other that has been captured and removed from Democratic process.
    If legal, and it should be, pay the processor to take pictures of the Bankster’s home for your own benevolent purposes. It’s time more people realized how much better, and obscenely unfair, the other 1% lives.

  7. TheHutMaster says:

    I hear from folks that pre-tend Process Servers, such as the a$$hats from PROVEST, are serving these fraud suits. A Sheriff should be the only one serving but… since these suits contain FRAUD, the criminal banks are using 3rd party THUGS.

    Then the COCKROACHES, such as NCCI, Provest, SafeGuard, come around with their silly cameras and silly turds, stating an inspection had occured.

    Post NO TREASPASS Signs on your property to keep the cockroaches from setting foot on the property. If they do, call the police and report the Treaspass / Stalking.

    “Fight The Good Fight”
    Every Minute, Every Day.

    • G-Man says:

      To TheHutMaster-Do you have any idea what you’re talking about?
      It appears from your comments, that you have maybe a more “personal” stake in the matter?

      FACT: Many Sheriff’s Offices across the nation are reducing their civil process staff to “enforceable process” only. Others are replacing the sworn officers with non-sworn (ie: civilian for lack of a better word) process servers.
      Budgets and manpower dictate these moves, and as Jeff mentioned, rightfully so! As a retired LEO, law enforcement needs to concentrate on public safety first. Resources need to be expended in that arena before worring about non-criminal matters.

      While I have no love lost for the banks/mortgange companies, the hack law firms that have in the past represented them, Provest, or any of the others that have served for them, the fact is, the holder of a loan has a right to ensure that the property they hold mortgage on, and have a financial interest in, is still present and in reasonable condition. They have a right to certain inspections, and photographs. Placing no tresspassing signs and MAKING FALSE POLICE REPORTS is a CRIMINAL ACT, and makes you no better than the “thugs” you complain about.

      Calling the police will do no more than tie up law enforcement unnecessarily, in an attempt to suit your own needs.

  8. So let me get this straight you are in a proffesion that at best because of the financial crisis is considered to be high risk and you take your wife and child with you.Is this guy for real or just stuck on stupid.Why after everything that has happened would you make a decision like this that is earmarked for disaster.Self made death wish?Sorry this guy is an idiot to take his wife and child to work and put them at risk.You can’t push people too far and expect good results.

    • Jeff K says:

      That is right Pamela he and his family deserved it… What did they expect a welcome wagon? Pamela all joking aside, Process Servers performs a vital function as part of our legal system and yes sometimes it can be a little dicey for them. As someone who works in the industry for coming up on three decades I do not buy that process serving is any more dangerous today than it was prior to the housing crisis. I think that with 24 hour news cycles and everything now being published on the internet, it just appears to some that process servers are facing more danger today than they did in the past. That said, when an idiot like the subject the Root was serving reacts by almost killing the process server and his family it is not the process servers fault! Anyone that knows much about the industry of process serving knows that it is not your typical 9-5 job where you clock in and clock out. Many process servers in communities all over the country attempt to serve process during hours that folks are likely to be home. That might mean that while the process server is on the way back from the movies with the kids that he might swing by a house to see if he can catch the subject to be served. Process Servers often live in the communities and towns that they serve. All I am saying is I think it is unfair to demonize the process server for doing his job and for being a productive part of his or her community.

      In response to TheHutMaster yes there are some bad actors in the process serving industry and they should be dealt with as swiftly and severely as the legal system will allow. There is no room for fraudulent process servers. Oh by the way most Sheriff’s offices that serve process do so at a loss to the tax payers in some counties that amounts to millions of dollars annually. On top of that Sheriff’s office will never be as effective at serving process than a private process server, they have not skin in the game the simply give it a try and if they are successful great if they are not no one cares. They are not accountable for producing the desired result they just go through the motions…. kind of like the Postal Service only less effective. The Sheriff ought to be focus on public safety issues and not performing a tack that the private sector performs more efficiently.

      • pam28971 says:

        I agree with you and have been served by some of the best and the worst.However;I’ve never been served by anyone with a child or family just riding along.All I’m saying here is that was one of the dumbest things that guy could have picked to do.As to process servers themselves I have been served by people who are proffesionals and they are courteous and polite do thier job and move on and I’ve been served by the worst people who tack paperwork to your house and run because they are idiot sticks and don’t do the job the way it is supposed to be done.The ones who do thier job I will agree don’t deserve to be demonized for being in the industry the ones that don’t well I’m sorry I don’t have anything nice to say about them,except they don’t deserve the job.Thank you for your insight to the industry and may you and yours enjoy a wonderful Christmas season.

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