• Rhema, LLC v. Foresite, LLC
  • January 7, 2016 | Author: S. Joseph Cardile
  • Law Firm: Thomas, Thomas & Hafer LLP - Baltimore Office
  • Maryland Court of Special Appeals No. 1274, September Term, 2014 Decided: November 10, 2015

    When the resident agent cannot be located according to SDAT records, alternative service on SDAT deemed proper.

    Background


    On June 27, 2011, Rhema acquired, in fee simple, 7823 Parston Drive in Prince George’s County, Maryland. Ten days earlier, John Foretia filed Articles of Organization for Ambondem, LLC. Mr. Moretia was the organizer, sole member, and resident agent of both Rhema and Ambondem. On May 10, 2013, Foresite, a contractor, entered into a contract for renovations and improvements upon the property. The contract was entitled “Ambondem Catering Center, Forestville, Maryland.” However, no interest in the real property owned by Rhema was ever conveyed to Ambondem. Foresite subsequently completed significant renovations and improvements to the property. When Rhema grew late on its payments, Foresite sought a mechanic’s lien in the Circuit Court for Prince George’s County. Foresite, twice, unsuccessfully attempted service of the mechanic’s lien complaint on Rhema.

    Foresite then served the order and corresponding documents on SDAT in accordance with the Maryland Rules. Accordingly, the Circuit Court entered a final mechanic’s lien order. In turn, Rhema filed a motion to vacate the order, arguing it did not receive notice until after the time to respond elapsed and that, under the circumstances, substitute service violated Rhema’s constitutional rights to due process. The Circuit Court denied Rhema’s motion.

    Holding

    The Court of Special Appeals concluded that service under the Maryland Rules on SDAT satisfied the requirements of due process. Indeed, the Court explained that Maryland Rule 2-124(o) provides that “service may be made upon a corporation . . . if . . . (iii) two good faith attempts on separate days to serve the resident agent have failed.” When the resident agent cannot be located, alternative service on SDAT is deemed proper. Moreover, because there were no facts to establish that Ambondem was the owner of the subject property, or that Rhema was not the “owner,” as contemplated under Maryland’s mechanic’s lien law, the Circuit Court did not err, abuse its discretion, or deny Rhema due process in entering the final mechanic’s lien order, or in deciding not to vacate the order.