A federal judge yesterday agreed to let Charles Murrell III, beaten by members of the white-supremacist Patriot Front rabble on July 4th weekend last year, formally alert the group's leader of his lawsuit against it by e-mail instead of in person, because the guy has been changing addresses like somebody who doesn't really want to be served with lawsuit paperwork.
US District Court Judge Indira Talwani ruled that Murrell's lawyers at Foley Hoag had proven they'd gone to more than reasonable lengths to find Thomas Rousseau, last known address somewhere in Texas, so that a process server could hand him a copy of Murrell's lawsuit over the incident as normally required by law. Talwani wrote:
Murrell’s showing of multiple, unsuccessful efforts to serve a representative of the Patriot Front association constitute sufficient diligence such that alternative service is warranted.
And so Murrell's attorneys can now serve Rosseau by e-mail addresses they say they have found linked to Patriot Front posts on Telegram and other platforms, where Rousseau and Patriot Front proved they were aware of Rosseau's claims in 2022 - by pretty quickly denying his account. Murrell has said he just wanted to play his saxophone outside the Copley Square library when he was attacked on Dartmouth Street by some Patriot Front goons in town that day to heil up the idea of a whites-only America.
In a motion filed last week, Murrell's lawyers described their efforts to serve Rosseau, including four attempts in August at an address in Haslet, TX:
On each occasion, the process server knocked on the door and, when those knocks went unanswered, attached to the front door her contact information and a request that the occupant of the home contact her. While the process server observed on each of her subsequent visits to the home that those attachments had been removed from the front door, she never received a call back from Mr. Rousseau or anyone else. The process server also attempted to speak with neighbors to learn more information about the occupant of the home, to no avail.
The lawyers continued the closest they got was when they found a house in San Marcos, TX, linked to one of Rosseau's untersturmführers, on whom they'd hoped they could serve a copy of the suit. A knock on the door was answered by the guy's father - who said his son had moved to San Antonio but would not give out his address there.
Talwani said the lawyers could now serve a copy of the suit by sending them to the e-mail addresses they had found:
Murrell has also sufficiently demonstrated that his proposed means of alternative service are reasonably calculated to alert Patriot Front to the pendency of this litigation. Indeed, it appears that Patriot Front is already aware of the case and has made reference to it on the social media platforms by which Murrell intends to effectuate service.
In addition to allowing e-mail service, Talwani also extended the period in which Murrell's lawyers have to notify Rosseau by three months.
This is the second case in a year in which Talwani agreed to let a plaintiff use alternative means to notify somebody they were getting sued. Last December, she issued a similar ruling involving a California company trying to sue somebody who might live in Boston, but who had proven physically elusive.