This opinion will be unpublished and

may not be cited except as provided by

Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2004).






Dennis A. Thom,


Scott County, et al.,


Filed September 26, 2006


Stoneburner, Judge


Scott County District Court

File No. 70-CV-05-19277


Dennis A. Thom, 20816 Addison Drive, Prior Lake, MN 55372 (pro se appellant); and


James R. Andreen, Erstad & Reimer, P.A., 8009 – 34th Avenue South, Suite 200, Minneapolis, MN 55425 (for respondents)


            Considered and decided by Stoneburner, Presiding Judge; Toussaint, Chief Judge; and Shumaker, Judge.

U N P U B L I S H E D  O P I N I O N




            Appellant challenges the dismissal of his case for lack of proper service.  Because appellant did not properly serve respondents, we affirm.


Appellant Dennis A. Thom applied for the position of Employee Relations Director for Scott County.  In early 2004, the county informed Thom that he was not selected.  In June 2005, the Minnesota Department of Human Rights denied his age-discrimination claim under the Minnesota Human Rights Act.  In August 2005, Thom attempted to serve respondents Scott County, Lori Huss, and David Unmacht with a summons and complaint.  The papers were served by Mr. Don E. Moe.  Moe’s affidavit of service states that he

served a copy of the Summons and Complaint and Acknowledgment to the work/business places of Scott County, Lori Huss and David J. Unmacht, Defendant(s) named in the Dennis A[.] Thom law suit dated 8-12-05, their location, Scott County at Scott County and Scott County Employee Relations, Government Center Room 201, 200 Fourth Avenue West, Shakopee, MN 55379.[1]


Huss and Unmacht were not personally served but agree that they had actual notice of the action.  Neither the county-board chair nor the county auditor has ever been provided with the summons and complaint.  The district court dismissed the action because Thom did not properly serve respondents.  This appeal followed.


“If service of process is invalid, the district court lacks jurisdiction to consider the case, and it is properly dismissed.”  Leek v. Am. Express Prop. Cas., 591 N.W.2d 507, 509 (Minn. App. 1999), review denied (Minn. July 7, 1999).

Minn. R. Civ. P. 4.03(a) requires a plaintiff who is bringing an action against an individual to deliver a copy of the summons and complaint “to the individual personally or by leaving a copy at the individual’s usual place of abode . . . .”  “Rule 4 . . . cannot be satisfied by service on [a] defendant’s place of work or business.”  Thiele v. Stich, 425 N.W.2d 580, 584 (Minn. 1988).  Furthermore, “the actual notice exception applies only to cases involving substitute service at a defendant’s usual place of abode.”  Turek v. A.S.P. of Moorhead, Inc., 618 N.W.2d 609, 612 (Minn. App. 2000), review denied (Minn. Jan. 26, 2001).  Because Moe left a copy of the summons and complaint at the parties’ offices without personally handing copies to Huss and Unmacht, service of process was deficient, and the district court properly dismissed Thom’s claims against Huss and Unmacht.

Minn. R. Civ. P. 4.03(e)(1) requires a plaintiff who is bringing an action against a county to deliver a copy of the summons and complaint “[t]o the chair of the county board or to the county auditor of a defendant county.”  Here, the affidavit of service is completely devoid of any reference to the chair of the county board or the Scott County Auditor.  Because neither the chair of the county board nor the Scott County Auditor was served, service of process was deficient, and the district court properly dismissed Thom’s claims against Scott County.


[1] Moe’s affidavit of service merely states that he “served” a copy of the documents and does not indicate whether he personally, hand-delivered the documents or mailed them to the address provided.  The affidavits of Unmacht and Huss state that neither was personally served.