This opinion will be unpublished and
may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2000).
STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN COURT OF APPEALS
Sheryl Ramstad Hvass,
Filed July 30, 2002
Ramsey County District Court
File No. C4013610
Michael Williams, OID No. 190665, Minnesota Correctional Facility, 5329 Osgood Avenue, Stillwater, MN 55082-1117 (pro se appellant)
Mike Hatch, Attorney General, Kari Jo Ferguson, Assistant Attorney General, 525 Park Street, Suite 500, St. Paul, MN 55103 (for respondent)
Considered and decided by Anderson, Presiding Judge, Lansing, Judge, and Kalitowski, Judge.
G. BARRY ANDERSON, Judge
The district court dismissed appellant’s state civil-rights action for insufficiency of service of process. The dismissal had the effect of a dismissal with prejudice because the time for filing a lawsuit under the applicable statute has now expired. Appellant argues the district court should have appointed a person to personally serve the summons and complaint on respondent under Fed. R. Civ. P. 4(c)(2). Appellant also argues that the service by mail was sufficient because respondent had actual notice of the lawsuit. We affirm.
On April 24, 2001, appellant, an inmate at the Oak Park Heights Correctional Facility, filed a complaint in district court alleging several claims under the Minnesota Human Rights Act. Appellant served a summons and complaint, along with one copy of a notice and acknowledgment of service, on respondent by U.S. mail. Appellant did not file an affidavit of service with the district court administrator. Respondent notified the district court that she would not accept service of the summons and complaint because appellant failed to include two copies of the notice and acknowledgement form and a pre-paid return envelope as required by Minn. R. Civ. P. 4.05.
By letter dated June 21, 2001, the district court notified appellant that he had to provide the court with proof of service within 30 days or it would dismiss the complaint. According to the district court record, appellant failed to file an affidavit of service. By letter dated August 17, respondent requested the district court dismiss appellant’s complaint; the court dismissed the complaint on August 30. The court administrator entered the order dismissing appellant’s lawsuit on January 2, 2002, and this appeal followed.
Whether service of process is proper is a question of law, which we review de novo. Turek v. A.S.P. of Moorhead, Inc., 618 N.W.2d 609, 611 (Minn. App. 2000), review denied (Minn. Jan. 26, 2001); Leek v. Am. Express Prop. Cas., 591 N.W.2d 507, 508 (Minn. App. 1999), review denied (Minn. July 7, 1999).
I. Fed. R. Civ. P. 4(c)(2)
Appellant argues he was entitled to have the district court appoint a person to personally serve the summons and complaint on respondent because he was authorized to proceed in forma pauperis under 28 U.S.C. § 1915 (1994 & Supp. 2001). Because appellant did not make any such request before the district court, we need not address appellant’s argument on appeal. See Thiele v. Stich, 425 N.W.2d 580, 582 (Minn. 1988). Appellant’s argument, however, is without merit.
Fed. R. Civ. P. 4(c)(2) provides:
At the request of the plaintiff * * * the court may direct that service be effected by a United States marshal, deputy United States marshal, or other person or officer specially appointed by the court for that purpose. Such an appointment must be made when the plaintiff is authorized to proceed in forma pauperis pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915 * * * .
Thus, under federal law, where a plaintiff is proceeding in forma pauperis, a federal district “court is obligated to issue plaintiff’s process to a United States Marshal who must in turn effectuate service upon the defendants.” Byrd v. Stone, 94 F.3d 217, 219 (6th Cir. 1996) (citations omitted).
28 U.S.C. § 1915 and Fed. R. Civ. P. 4(c)(2), however, are not applicable in civil state-court proceedings. Lay v. McElven, 691 So. 2d 311, 313 (La. Ct. App. 1997) (statute does not apply to state-court proceeding even where federal civil claim is involved); Johnson v. Desmond, 658 A.2d 375, 376 (Pa. Super. Ct. 1995) (stating that 28 U.S.C. § 1915 “has no applicability to the state courts”); see also Fed. R. Civ. P. 1 (stating that the federal rules of civil procedure “govern the procedure in the United States district courts in all suits of a civil nature”).
The Minnesota Rules of Civil Procedure provide several ways in which service of process may occur in civil actions. See Minn. R. Civ. P. 4.03 (personal service); 4.04 (publication); 4.05 (U.S. mail); see also Minn. R. Civ. P. 1 (stating that the rules of civil procedure “govern the procedure in the district courts of the State of Minnesota in all suits of a civil nature”). The rules of civil procedure, however, do not provide for court-appointed service of process by law-enforcement officials (or any other person for that matter) when a plaintiff is proceeding in forma pauperis in a state civil proceeding. Therefore, we conclude that appellant was not entitled to have the district court appoint a person to personally serve the summons and complaint on respondent under either the federal or Minnesota rules of civil procedure.
II. Actual Notice
Appellant argues the service of process by mail was sufficient because respondent had actual notice of the lawsuit. Service may be effected
by mailing a copy of the summons and of the complaint (by first-class mail, postage prepaid) to the person to be served, together with two copies of a notice and acknowledgement * * * and a return envelope, postage prepaid, addressed to the sender. If acknowledgment of service under this rule is not received by the sender within the time defendant is required by these rules to serve an answer, service shall be ineffectual.
Minn. R. Civ. P. 4.05. Unless good cause is shown, if the person served fails to return the notice and acknowledgement, “the court shall order the payment of the costs of personal service” required to effect service. Id.
“Service of process in a manner not authorized by the rule is ineffective service.” Turek, 618 N.W.2d at 611 (quotations omitted). Whether the person served had actual notice of the lawsuit is irrelevant when service is effected by mail. Id. at 612; Coons v. St. Paul Cos., 486 N.W.2d 771, 775 (Minn. App. 1992), review denied (Minn. July 16, 1992).
Appellant served a summons, complaint, and one copy of a notice and acknowledgment on respondent by U.S. mail. According to the district court record, appellant neither filed an affidavit of service nor provided respondent with two copies of the notice and acknowledgment or a prepaid return envelope as required by Minn. R. Civ. P. 4.05. See Hughes v. Lund, 603 N.W.2d 674, 677 (Minn. App. 1999) (attempted service by mail is ineffective where the sender does not include an acknowledgement form or a self-addressed prepaid return envelope, and the person served does not acknowledge service).
Moreover, that respondent had actual notice of the lawsuit is irrelevant. Turek, 618 N.W.2d at 612; Coons, 486 N.W.2d at 775. When respondent failed to return the notice and acknowledgment, appellant should have made arrangements for alternative means of service. Minn. R. Civ. P. 4.05. Respondent was under no obligation to consent to appellant’s lawsuit under Minn. R. Civ. P. 4.05.
 Minn. Stat. § 563.01, subd. 4 (2000), provides that a plaintiff proceeding in forma pauperis in Minnesota may be entitled to reimbursement for certain expenses associated with service of process. Under the statute, a
court shall direct payment of the reasonable expense of service of process * * * if served by a private process server, if the sheriff is unavailable, or by publication.
Id. Appellant, however, made no such request of the district court and advances no authority on appeal that the district court was required to order a sheriff to effect service of process sua sponte. See id. (“Upon order of the court, * * * [t]he court shall direct payment * * * .”).