final until disposition of timely filed motion for rehearing.
Appeal from a non-final order from the Circuit Court for
Miami-Dade County, Rodney Smith, Judge. Lower Tribunal No.
R. Soven, P.A., and Alan R. Soven, for appellant.
& Georges-Pierre, PLLC, and Anthony M. Georges-Pierre,
ROTHENBERG, C.J., and EMAS and LUCK, JJ.
Williams a/k/a "Birdman" ("the
defendant") appeals a non-final order denying his
supplemental motion to dismiss the complaint based on
insufficiency of service of process, asserting that, contrary
to the return of service, the person the process server gave
the summons and complaint to does not reside at the
defendant's usual place of abode as required under
section 48.031(1)(a), Florida Statutes (2016). For the reasons
that follow, we affirm.
FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
Nuno ("the plaintiff") filed suit against the
defendant. The return of service reflects, in part, that on
June 15, 2016, the process server delivered a copy of the
complaint and summons to Cory Jones ("Mr. Jones")
at the defendant's usual place of abode in Miami Beach,
Florida, and that Mr. Jones is over the age of fifteen and a
co-resident at the defendant's Miami Beach residence.
defendant filed a supplemental motion to dismiss the
complaint, along with his sworn affidavit, challenging the
sufficiency of the substitute service of process. The motion
to dismiss and the defendant's affidavit state that the
defendant employs Mr. Jones as a security guard; Mr. Jones
has never resided at the defendant's Miami Beach
residence; Mr. Jones resides at a specific address in
Hollywood Beach, Florida; Mr. Jones is not a member of the
defendant's household; and Mr. Jones is not authorized to
accept complaints on behalf of the defendant.
evidentiary hearing on the defendant's supplemental
motion to dismiss, the return of service and the
defendant's affidavit were introduced into evidence. In
addition, Mr. Jones and the process server testified.
Jones testified that on June 15, 2016, he went to the front
gate of the defendant's Miami Beach residence because he
saw someone taking pictures. A process server then handed him
a complaint, but the process server never asked Mr. Jones if
he resided at the defendant's Miami Beach residence or if
he was a member of the defendant's household. Mr. Jones
testified that he provides private security services to the
defendant; he has never resided at the defendant's Miami
Beach residence; he resides at a specific address in
Hollywood Beach, Florida; he is not a member of the
defendant's household; and he does not have the authority
to accept a complaint on behalf of the defendant. Mr.
Jones's testimony was not corroborated with any
documentation, such as a driver's license, a lease of his
alleged Hollywood Beach residence, or utility bills
associated with the specific Hollywood Beach address.
contrast, the process server testified that, prior to
identifying himself as a process server, he asked Mr. Jones
if he lived at the defendant's Miami Beach residence, and
in response, Mr. Jones stated, "Yes, I do live
here." Thereafter, he asked Mr. Jones if the defendant
was home, and after Mr. Jones responded that the defendant
was not, he identified himself as a process server and gave
the complaint and summons to Mr. Jones, who is over the age
of fifteen and a co-resident at the defendant's Miami
conclusion of the evidentiary hearing, the trial court stated
that it considered the witnesses' demeanor, frankness,
and ability to remember matters relating to their testimony;
the interest each witness has in the outcome of the case; and
the reasonableness of their testimony. Based on these
considerations, the trial court found that the process server
was credible and that the service of process was valid, and
the trial ...