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With more than 200 Zofran lawsuits consolidated in the US District Court of Massachusetts, families and GlaxoSmithKline are at pains to simplify the MDL process.

dIn an effort to streamline the filing of new complaints, and ease the transfer of previously-filed lawsuits, GlaxoSmithKline has agreed to “waive formal service of process” for all complaints and summons. The Honorable F. Dennis Saylor IV announced the decision in his 7th official order, released on December 17, 2015.

Service Of Process Explained

“Service of process” is a legal term for the method by which a defendant is notified of an initial legal action. In the US, service of process is so critical that a lawsuit can’t begin unless service is completed properly. Generally, service of process is completed by delivering a set of documents to whoever needs to be served.

Technically, that set of legal documents is known as “process.” Every jurisdiction has its own definition of what counts as service of process, and the documents required can include an initial complaint or a formal summons issued by the court. In any case, the point is to notify a party that legal proceedings have begun and establish the court’s “personal jurisdiction” over all the parties involved in the lawsuit.

For our purposes, the important part is that Plaintiffs can’t serve process themselves. Process can be served, however, by anybody over the age of 18 who isn’t involved in the litigation. Court officials, like sheriffs and bailiffs, can carry out this function, and there are also private process servers in most states. Usually, process servers are required to deliver the appropriate documents to an authorized recipient in person, by hand, rather than through the mail or in an e-mail. d

Once process is served, the defendant is legally able to participate in the proceedings, including appearances before the court. If they fail to respond appropriately, the court can find them in default and ultimately award the plaintiff relief.

Will This Change Anything?

In effect, this means that new complaints won’t have to go through a process server before reaching GlaxoSmithKline’s corporate office or the company’s attorneys. After filing their complaint, Plaintiffs will have 30 days to e-mail a copy of the necessary documents and a formal document requesting waiver of service directly to the company’s defense attorneys, the national law firm Shook, Hardy & Bacon. GlaxoSmithKline’s attorneys will sign the waiver and send it back.

Usually, Defendants have a limited amount of time to review the complaint and write up a response after being served. Now that Glaxo has opted out of formal service, the company will have longer to work up its responses.

The company’s waiver of service of process only counts for lawsuits filed against GlaxoSmithKline, LLC.

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