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Alternate Service in Quiet Title Cases

In quiet title cases, alternate service may be necessary when the defendants cannot be found. Quiet title actions are lawsuits brought to resolve disputes over property ownership. They are typically filed when there are competing claims to a property or when there are clouds on the title that need to be cleared.

In Michigan, the plaintiff in a quiet title action must serve all interested parties with notice of the lawsuit. This includes any individuals or entities with an interest in the property, such as co-owners, mortgage holders, or lien holders. If the plaintiff is unable to locate any of these parties, they may need to pursue alternate service.

A legal notice

The process of alternate service in quiet title cases is similar to that in other civil lawsuits. The plaintiff must file a motion with the court requesting permission to serve the defendant through alternate means. The motion must include a detailed explanation of the steps taken to locate the defendant and why traditional forms of service were unsuccessful. The plaintiff must also propose a specific method of alternate service, such as by mail or publication in a newspaper.

If the court grants the motion, the plaintiff can proceed with the proposed method of alternate service. For example, if the plaintiff is granted permission to serve a defendant by mail, they must mail a copy of the summons and complaint to the defendant’s last known address. Usually, when alternate service is ordered, the order requires (1) mailing to the defendants’ last known addresses, (2) posting on the property and at the circuit courthouse, and (3) publishing in the county legal news for three consecutive weeks.

A chart listing the steps to alternate service in Michigan

If a defendant fails to respond to the alternate service, the plaintiff can request a default judgment from the court. A default judgment is a judgment in favor of the plaintiff because the defendant failed to respond to the lawsuit. However, if the defendant does respond to the alternate service, they can challenge the validity of the service and contest the lawsuit.

It is important to note that quiet title actions can be complex and involve multiple parties with competing interests. Pursuing alternate service should only be done after a thorough search for all interested parties has been conducted and traditional forms of service have been exhausted. If the plaintiff fails to properly serve all interested parties, the court may not be able to resolve the dispute and the lawsuit could be dismissed.

In conclusion, alternate service may be necessary in quiet title cases when interested parties cannot be located. The plaintiff must follow proper procedures and make a good faith effort to locate all interested parties before pursuing alternate service. If you are considering filing a quiet title action in Michigan, it is important to consult with an experienced attorney to ensure that you are following proper procedures and protecting your legal rights.


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Wood, Kull, Herschfus, Obee & Kull, P.C.

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