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Sunday, April 5, 2009

AG Obtains Judgment Against Process Server

March 10, 2009 - For Immediate Press Release

Attorney General Martha Coakley Obtains Judgment Against Process Server for Violating Massachusetts Consumer Protection Law

Company and its Sole Officer Permanently Prohibited From Acting as Process Servers; Ordered to Pay Civil Penalties and Legal Fees

BOSTON - Attorney General Martha Coakley’s Office has obtained a judgment in Suffolk Superior Court against Boston-based process server Stokes & Levin, Inc. and its sole officer and director, Darren Stokes, both of whom engaged in a pattern of falsifying service of legal papers and filing those documents with state and federal courts. Judge Bruce Henry of the Suffolk Superior Court has issued a court order permanently prohibiting both Stokes & Levin and Mr. Stokes from acting as process servers or otherwise serving legal papers. Additionally, the court ordered the payment of $10,000 in civil penalties for violations of the Massachusetts Consumer Protection Law and $9,542.40 for the costs of investigation and attorneys’ fees.

“Our office has sought to put an end to Stokes & Levin’s practice of falsifying court filings to reflect service of legal documents that never occurred,” said Attorney General Coakley. “Massachusetts businesses and individuals must be able to rely on the integrity of the judicial system. Legal process servers play an integral role in that system, and the fraudulent actions of Stokes & Levin not only undermines it, but also poses a risk of harm to individuals and entities that is unacceptable.”

The court found that Stokes & Levin and Mr. Stokes engaged in unfair and deceptive conduct in connection with their legal process service activities, all in violation of the Massachusetts Consumer Protection Law. The court further found that Stokes & Levin and Mr. Stokes knowingly falsified service of legal process and made affirmative misrepresentations to the courts. In addition to being prohibited as acting as process servers, Stokes & Levin and Mr. Stokes are barred from advertising legal process services, accepting money for serving legal papers, and forming another legal process business.

The Attorney General’s Office filed a lawsuit in October 2008 alleging that Stokes & Levin, Inc. represented to courts that it had served legal documents on the intended recipients, when in fact; Stokes & Levin had not served the documents at all. These actions left individuals exposed to potential liability in cases of which they may not even have been aware.

This matter was handled by Assistant Attorneys General Scott Schafer, Division Chief, and Elizabeth Koenig, both of Attorney General Coakley’s Consumer Protection Division, with assistance from Kristen Metzger of the Investigations Division.

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