Bill seeks to directly protect consumers from improper delivery of court filing notifications, known as’ ‘Sewer Service’
City Hall, March 24, 2010 – At today’s Stated Council meeting, the members of the New York City Council will vote on a bill aimed at stopping “sewer service” or improper and inaccurate court filing notifications. In the past year because of the increase in recession-driven debt cases, an overwhelming number of complaints have come from consumers who have not been properly served. This process has so become riddled with inaccuracies that it is often referred to as “sewer service.”
The Council will also vote on legislation to quickly identify children qualified for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status and a bill that will ensure that every new public school student will receive a library application. Finally, the Council will vote on its Fiscal Year 2011 Operating Budget and the appointment of David Yassky as commissioner of the Taxi and Limousine Commission.
ENSURING PROPER DELIVERY OF LEGAL NOTICES
In an effort to ensure New Yorkers are properly and timely notified of lawsuits filed against them, the Council will vote on legislation today aimed at regulating the process server industry in order to stop “sewer service” or the deliberate failure to notify an individual about a pending lawsuit against them. Specifically, this bill will increase the requirements necessary to become a licensed process server, a step that will ensure servers provide legal and accurate notice of lawsuits.
Deliberate failure to deliver the notification of a court filing followed by a false affidavit of successful delivery is a rising problem in New York City. In the past year, partly due to the increase in recession-driven consumer debt cases, an overwhelming number of default judgments have been entered against consumers because, as a result of sewer service, they never received notice of the fact a lawsuit was filed against them.
“I’m proud to say that New York is leading the way nationally in protecting consumers against these unscrupulous practices,” said City Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn. “To say this unfair and inaccurate to New Yorkers would be putting it lightly. It is everyone’s constitutional right to get served properly – to know that they have a court filing against them. And at a time, when everyone is struggling to pay the bills, it is unacceptable to put this additional unjust and undue burden on them.”
”We are taking sewer service out of the sewer,” Council Member Dan Garodnick said. ”Sewer service undermines our entire legal system, and it is crushing 300,000 New Yorkers each year who lose court cases they didn’t even know existed. By raising standards in the industry and using new technologies, we will give New Yorkers a fair chance to answer claims against them.”
Process servers are currently licensed by the Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) and this bill would require licensed process servers to:
• Pass an examination regarding proper service of process in New York State;
• Use an electronic device such as a GPS, to record the time, date and location of every service;
• Retain records of each process served for seven years and make these records available to the DCA commissioner upon request; and
• Post a bond for $10,000 or, if an individual is unable to obtain a surety bond, pay into a trust fund administered by DCA for the purpose of covering unpaid fines and judgments.
Additionally, licensed industry agencies would be required to:
• Purchase a $100,000 bond for the purpose of covering unpaid fines and judgments;
• Retain records of each process served for seven years and make these records available to the DCA commissioner upon request;
• Provide a statement of employee rights and employer responsibilities to every process server under their employ; and
• Maintain signed documents that employees understand these rights and responsibilities.
The legislation also requires DCA submit a report to the Council in two years detailing the effectiveness of the legislation on improving oversight and increasing proper service.
PROTECTING IMMIGRANT CHILDREN
The City Council will vote on legislation that addresses the needs of immigrant children within the Administration for Children’s Services (ACS) fostercare system who may qualify for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS) or other immigration benefits.
“Immigrant children deserve the same rights as everyone. This bill will help children in ACS supervision get access to the immigration services they need. We must ensure that children who qualify are given the opportunities they deserve including the ability to be put on a path towards citizenship,” said Council Member Daniel Dromm. I am proud to move this important bill which will protect the rights of immigrant children in foster care. As Chair of the Immigration Committee and someone who represents one of the country’s most diverse communities, I feel that this piece of legislation will put young immigrants in foster care in a position to succeed.”
The Council bill would charge ACS with developing a plan to systemize the following:
• Identify children within ACS that qualify for SIJS or other immigration benefits as early as possible;
• Identify country of birth of children within the ACS system;
• Track such children until the completion of their SIJS or other immigration relief;
• Assist such children, as soon as they are identified, in obtaining the immigration services they need, including birth certificates if they do not have them; and
• Provide mandatory training programs for case workers on immigration benefits;
Beginning one year from the completion of the plan, ACS would be required to report annually to the City Council on their ability to identify, track and coordinate immigration services for immigrant children and their progress in achieving the goals of the plan.
IMPROVING LIBRARY CARD REGISTRATION
To increase the access and use of the New York City Public Library (NYPL) among eligible students, the Council will vote on legislation to give every new public school student the opportunity to receive a library card. Currently, only 28% of eligible children in New York City have a library card.
“A library card is a passport to lifelong learning, providing free access to books and other educational materials. It is an essential tool in the education of every child,” Council Member James Van Bramer said. “This bill will reduce barriers to access and make sure that every student is encouraged to obtain a library card.”
Specifically, this bill will require the Department of Education to distribute either a written or electronic library card application, a description of either the New York, Brooklyn and Queens borough public libraries and proper instructions on how to register for a card. Every year this package of materials will be distributed to all students entering kindergarten, sixth grade, ninth grade and any new student entering public school.
APPOINTMENT OF TAXI AND LIMOUSINE COMMISIONER
The Council will vote to approve the Administration’s appointment of David Yassky as commissioner of the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC). Mr. Yassky will be eligible to serve as Chair of the TLC for the remainder of a seven-year term that expires on January 31, 2017.
The City Council will also vote on its Fiscal Year 2011 internal operating budget. The Council’s Proposed FY 2011 budget is $52,882,967 and marks zero dollar increase from the FY 2010 modified budget.