Rule 4.03: Summons; Return.



(1) The person serving the summons shall promptly make proof of service to the court and shall identify the person served and shall describe the manner of service. If a summons is not served within 90 days after its issuance, it shall be returned stating the reasons for failure to serve. The plaintiff may obtain new summonses from time to time, as provided in Rule 3, if any prior summons has been returned unserved or if any prior summons has not been served within 90 days of issuance.

(2) When process is served by mail, the original summons, endorsed as below; an affidavit of the person making service setting forth the person's compliance with the requirements of this rule; and, the return receipt shall be sent to and filed by the clerk. The person making service shall endorse over his or her signature on the original summons the date of mailing a certified copy of the summons and a copy of the complaint to the defendant and the date of receipt of return receipt from the defendant. If the return receipt is signed by the defendant, or by person designated by Rule 4.04 or by statute, service on the defendant shall be complete. If not, service by mail may be attempted again or other methods authorized by these rules or by statute may be used.

(3) Failure to promptly file proof of service does not affect the validity of service.

[As amended by order filed January 6, 2005, effective July 1, 2005; and by order filed December 29, 2015, effective July 1, 2016.]

Advisory Commission Comments [2016].

4.03: Rule 4.03 is amended to add new subdivision (3), providing that the "[f]ailure to promptly file proof of service does not affect the validity of service." Subdivision (3), which is derived from Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 4(1)(3), essentially adopts in the rule the Supreme Court's analysis in Fair v. Cochran, 418 S.W.3d 542, 546 (Tenn.2013) (stating that "no language in Rule 4.03(a) [sic-in context, "4.03(1)"] states or implies that the failure to return proof of service promptly renders commencement ineffective to toll the statute of limitations").


NOTE: For the Advisory Commission Comments, please refer to Rule 4.09.

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