NOT FOR PUBLICATION IN WEST'S HAWAI'I REPORTS AND PACIFIC REPORTER
APPEAL FROM THE DISTRICT COURT OF THE FIRST CIRCUIT HONOLULU DIVISION (CASE NO. 1RC12-1-994)
Steven J. Kim (Law Office of Steven J. Kim) for Defendant-Appellant
Joseph W. Huster for Plaintiff-Appellee
Nakamura, C.J., Reifurth and Ginoza, JJ.
SUMMARY DISPOSITION ORDER
Defendant-Appellant Ralph Black (Black) appeals from an Order Denying Defendant's Motion to Set Aside Default Judgment filed on July 2, 2 012, by the District Court of the First Circuit, Honolulu Division (district court).
The case arises from Plaintiff-Appellee Celeste Manderville's (Manderville) claim that she paid Black a $2, 500 deposit for legal services, but that Black did not perform the services and refuses to reimburse the moneys paid. Manderville filed a complaint against Black on February 16, 2012. Rather than personally serving the complaint and summons on Black, Manderville sent a certified copy of the complaint and summons to Black via certified mail at his P.O. Box address on the Island of Lana'i. Black did not appear at a March 12, 2012 hearing and the district court thereupon entered default judgment against Black.
On appeal. Black contends that service upon him was defective and thus the district court erred in not setting aside the default judgment as void under District Court Rules of Civil Procedure (DCRCP) Rule 60(b)(4) (2006). Manderville, on the other hand, argues that service on Black was proper under applicable statutes.
Upon careful review of the record and the briefs submitted by the parties and having given due consideration to the arguments advanced and the issues raised by the parties, as well as the relevant statutory and case law, we. resolve Black's point of error as follows.
The default judgment in this case is void because service of the complaint and summons upon Black by certified mail is not permitted under DCRCP Rule 4(d) (1996) or any applicable statute. For a trial court to exercise personal jurisdiction over a defendant, a defendant must be properly served a copy of the summons and complaint. See Citicorp Mortg., Inc. v. Bartolome, 94 Hawai'i 422, 430, 16 P.3d 827, 835 (App. 2000) (regarding service under Hawai'i Rules of Civil Procedure (HRCP)
Rule 4(d), which is substantially similar to DCRCP Rule 4(d)).
DCRCP Rule 4(d) provides in relevant part:
Rule 4. Process
(d) Same: Personal service. The summons and complaint shall be served together. The plaintiff shall furnish the person making service with such copies as are necessary. Service shall be made as follows:
(1) Upon an individual other than an infant or an incompetent person, (i) by delivering a copy of the summons and of the complaint to that individual personally or in case the individual cannot be found by leaving copies thereof at the individual's dwelling house or usual place of abode with some person of suitable age and discretion then residing therein or (ii) by delivering a copy of the ...