This NC case illustrates the problems with determining when a statute of limitations starts to run.  Is it on the date of  bad advice, the date of the settlement, the date of the release, or later?  The North Carolina Appellate Blog writes:

"COA: Despite Signed Certified Mail Return Receipt, Service Validity Issues
In In the Matter of K.N., the COA yesterday vacated an order terminating a mother’s parental rights. Importantly for a party bringing any type of suit, the COA did so despite a certified mail return receipt that had been signed, and seemingly without proof as to improper service.

Civil Procedure Rule 4 allows for a presumption of proper service where process was signed for by the named party’s agent or a person who resides in his or her home. Here, the COA found the presumption of proper service rebutted by: 1) the discrepancy between an address the mother gave the trial court and the address to which the certified mail was directed; 2) the mother’s failure to appear at the proceeding; and 3) the lack of information about who the person who signed for the certified mail was.

The COA essentially held that the mother’s procedural due process rights to notice and a hearing (here the hearing was only 20 mins. and the mother had not been represented by counsel) had been violated. The COA therefore vacated the order terminating the mother’s parental rights.

Notably, the Court suggested that "issues" as to valid service may suffice to invalidate an order. The COA did not indicate, for example, that evidence existed demonstrating that the person who had accepted service for the mother was unauthorized to do so. (Carpenter v. Agee suggests that that’s the kind of evidence needed to overcome the presumption of proper service resulting from a return receipt and affidavit of service. 171 N.C.App. 98, 613 S.E.2d 735 (2005)). Nor did the COA indicate (or the appellant affirmatively state in her brief) that the address to which the summons had been sent was actually wrong.

Will future defendants for whom someone else signs when process is delivered be able to overturn adverse judgments by providing discrepant addresses, failing to appear, and leaving unanswered whether the person who signed for service was actually unauthorized? Plaintiffs and petitioners may want to think about these risks in determining whether their proof of service is sufficient.

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Andrew Lavoott Bluestone

Andrew Lavoott Bluestone has been an attorney for 40 years, with a career that spans criminal prosecution, civil litigation and appellate litigation. Mr. Bluestone became an Assistant District Attorney in Kings County in 1978, entered private practice in 1984 and in 1989 opened…

Andrew Lavoott Bluestone has been an attorney for 40 years, with a career that spans criminal prosecution, civil litigation and appellate litigation. Mr. Bluestone became an Assistant District Attorney in Kings County in 1978, entered private practice in 1984 and in 1989 opened his private law office and took his first legal malpractice case.

Since 1989, Bluestone has become a leader in the New York Plaintiff’s Legal Malpractice bar, handling a wide array of plaintiff’s legal malpractice cases arising from catastrophic personal injury, contracts, patents, commercial litigation, securities, matrimonial and custody issues, medical malpractice, insurance, product liability, real estate, landlord-tenant, foreclosures and has defended attorneys in a limited number of legal malpractice cases.

Bluestone also took an academic role in field, publishing the New York Attorney Malpractice Report from 2002-2004.  He started the “New York Attorney Malpractice Blog” in 2004, where he has published more than 4500 entries.

Mr. Bluestone has written 38 scholarly peer-reviewed articles concerning legal malpractice, many in the Outside Counsel column of the New York Law Journal. He has appeared as an Expert witness in multiple legal malpractice litigations.

Mr. Bluestone is an adjunct professor of law at St. John’s University College of Law, teaching Legal Malpractice.  Mr. Bluestone has argued legal malpractice cases in the Second Circuit, in the New York State Court of Appeals, each of the four New York Appellate Divisions, in all four of  the U.S. District Courts of New York and in Supreme Courts all over the state.  He has also been admitted pro haec vice in the states of Connecticut, New Jersey and Florida and was formally admitted to the US District Court of Connecticut and to its Bankruptcy Court all for legal malpractice matters. He has been retained by U.S. Trustees in legal malpractice cases from Bankruptcy Courts, and has represented municipalities, insurance companies, hedge funds, communications companies and international manufacturing firms. Mr. Bluestone regularly lectures in CLEs on legal malpractice.

Based upon his professional experience Bluestone was named a Diplomate and was Board Certified by the American Board of Professional Liability Attorneys in 2008 in Legal Malpractice. He remains Board Certified.  He was admitted to The Best Lawyers in America from 2012-2019.  He has been featured in Who’s Who in Law since 1993.

In the last years, Mr. Bluestone has been featured for two particularly noteworthy legal malpractice cases.  The first was a settlement of an $11.9 million dollar default legal malpractice case of Yeo v. Kasowitz, Benson, Torres & Friedman which was reported in the NYLJ on August 15, 2016. Most recently, Mr. Bluestone obtained a rare plaintiff’s verdict in a legal malpractice case on behalf of the City of White Plains v. Joseph Maria, reported in the NYLJ on February 14, 2017. It was the sole legal malpractice jury verdict in the State of New York for 2017.

Bluestone has been at the forefront of the development of legal malpractice principles and has contributed case law decisions, writing and lecturing which have been recognized by his peers.  He is regularly mentioned in academic writing, and his past cases are often cited in current legal malpractice decisions. He is recognized for his ample writings on Judiciary Law § 487, a 850 year old statute deriving from England which relates to attorney deceit.