Summons

A U.S.D.C. summons is a formal court document, which usually is accompanied by the complaint, notifying the defendant a lawsuit has been filed. U.S.D.C Summons issued by the court usually has a complaint and exhibits which are required to be served on all defendants.

Complaint

A complaint is a statement of the jurisdiction of the court, the allegations constituting the cause of action, and a demand for judgment. This is the first or initial pleading on the part of the plaintiff.

Territorial Limits

Service of a summons and complaint may be effected within any judicial district in the United States subject to constitutional and statutory restraints.

Issued by

Upon presentation by the plaintiff, the summons is signed by the clerk of the court and issued to the plaintiff.

Served by

The summons and complaint may be served by any person who is not a party and is at least 18 years old. Service is effected by the U.S. Marshal only when specifically ordered by the court. In general, such court-ordered service will be limited to cases where the plaintiff is authorized by the court to proceed in forma pauperis, under 28 USC 1915, or as a seaman, under 28 USC 1916. However, in any case, the court has discretion to order service by the U.S. Marshal.

When the party seeking service is the United States, the U.S. Marshal is no longer required to effect service. The United States, like other civil litigants, is expected to use individuals who are at least 18 years old and not parties to serve its summons and complaints. Because service by the U.S. Marshal may continue to be appropriate in certain cases, the Marshal will normally consult with the U.S. attorney about whether the former should continue to effect service of a summons and complaint on behalf of the United States.