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Hunter v. National Relocation Van Lines

United States District Court, D. Nevada

July 31, 2018

RUBY HUNTER, Plaintiff,
v.
NATIONAL RELOCATION VAN LINES; NATIONAL RELOCATION SOLUTIONS; Defendants.

          Telia U. Williams, Esq. Attorney for Ruby Hunter, Pro Bono In Conjunction with the Legal Aid Center of Southern Nevada

          PROPOSED ORDER (ECF NO. 4)

         Plaintiff Ruby Hunter has brought contract claims against National Relocation Van Lines and National Relocation Solutions, pursuant to the federal Interstate Commerce Commission Termination Act (formerly known as the Carmack Amendment), 49 U.S.C. § 14706, et seq. Before the court are Hunter's combined motions to extend time for service of process, and to serve the defendants by publication (ECF No. 4). For the reasons discussed below, Hunter's motions are granted.

         BACKGROUND

         In 2015, Ruby Hunter contracted with National Relocation Solutions (NRS) to move her belongings, including furniture and household goods, from her hometown in Greenwood, Indiana to Las Vegas, Nevada. (See Compl. (ECF No. 1), at ¶¶ 27-28). NRS sub-contracted with National Relocation Van Lines (NRV). (Id. at ¶ 27). After paying $4, 375.55 in advance, as agreed upon by the parties, Hunter was just due to pay an additional $1, 640.90 upon pick-up. (See Id. at ¶¶ 29, 33) However, after the deliverymen, agents for NRV, placed Hunter's entire belongings on their truck, they demanded nearly twice as much, or $3, 307.50. (See Id. at ¶¶ 36-38) Seeing that they would neither return her belongings to her, nor take them to the agreed upon location, Hunter paid the sum demanded. (See Id. at ¶¶ 36-40) Subsequently, the defendants breached the contract by failing to timely deliver her belongings to Las Vegas, and when they finally did, they delivered many of Hunter's most treasured belongings broken. (See Id. at ¶¶ 53-56) Then, despite her written agreement, the driver of the moving van refused to allow Hunter to recover her belongings without paying an additional $3, 500.00, in cash, on the spot. (See Id. at ¶¶ 46-47) The movers attempted to physically intimidate Hunter, going so far as to follow the elderly woman into her empty apartment, demanding that she make the payment. (See Id. at ¶¶ 27, 48) Furthermore, the driver failed to give Ruby a lading receipt, or any documentation of the move. (See Id. at ¶ 51) In total, Hunter made payments to the defendant in the amount of $7, 858.75-instead of the $4, 375.55 that she contracted for. (See Id. at ¶¶ 29, 32-33, 52)

         After exhausting her administrative remedies by filing a formal claim with the defendants, Hunter timely filed this lawsuit in February 2018, within two years of her receiving an unfavorable response to her claim from the defendants. (See Id. at ¶¶ 24-26) Hunter was accepted into the pro bono program of the Legal Aid Center of Southern Nevada, and assigned to an attorney who filed a lawsuit in this court on her behalf.

         To date, however, Hunter has been unable to locate or serve the defendants. Hunter retained the services of a professional process server, who is also a private investigator, to effectuate service of process on each of the defendants. (See generally, ECF No. 4; Exhibit 1, Affidavit of Telia U. Williams, Esq.) However, the server has still neither been able to serve, nor locate the defendants. (See ids.) Hunter's counsel's investigation (along with the aid of a paralegal) showed that NRV was last known to have its headquarters at:

(See ECF No. 4, at 4: 25-26).

         NRS was last known to have its headquarters at:

National Relocation Solutions 1585 Sulphur Spring Road Arbutus, Maryland 21227

(See id., at 5: 2-4). The applicable corporate licensing agencies in North Carolina and Maryland report that both companies, NRV and NRS, respectively, are not in good standing. (See id., at 5). The Secretary of State of North Carolina reports that NRV was “administratively dissolved” on June 5, 2015. (See id.) Similarly, the Maryland Department of Assessments and Taxation reports that NRS's corporate status is currently “forfeited.” (See id.) Moreover, Hunter confirmed that the Secretary of State of Nevada does not have a registered agent listed for either company, despite the companies having contracted to deliver Hunter's goods to Nevada. (See id., at 5).

         Accordingly, on May 11, 2018, Hunter requested the court to grant her an additional 120 days in which to serve the defendants, and to serve them by publication.

         DISCUSSION

         Hunter's motions raise two questions: (1) whether the court may extend the time to serve the defendants under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 4(m); and, (2) whether Hunter may serve the defendants by publication under Nevada Rule of Civil Procedure 4(e)(1)(i). Both questions are addressed below.

         A. Hunter's Motion to ...


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