Term Year 2016

Water Splash, Inc. v. Menon

Petitioner Water Splash sued respondent Menon, a former employee, in a Texas state court, alleging that she had begun working for a competitor while still employed by Water Splash. Because Menon resided in Canada, Water Splash obtained permission to effect service by mail. After Menon declined to answer or otherwise enter an appearance, the trial court issued a default judgment for Water Splash. That court subsequently denied Menon’s motion to set aside the judgment on the ground that she had not been properly served. On appeal, Menon argued that service by mail does not comport with the requirements of the Convention on the Service Abroad of Judicial and Extrajudicial Documents in Civil and Commercial Matters (Hague Service Convention), which seeks to simplify, standardize, and generally improve the process of serving documents abroad, specifying certain approved methods of service and preempting “inconsistent methods of service” wherever it applies, Volkswagenwerk Aktiengesellschaft v. Schlunk, 486 U. S. 694, 699.

The Texas Court of Appeals agreed with Menon, holding that the Convention prohibited service of process by mail. Article 10, the provision at issue, consists of Articles 10(b) and 10(c), which plainly address permissible methods of “service,” and Article 10(a), which provides that the Convention will not interfere with “the freedom to send judicial documents, by postal channels, directly to persons abroad,” but does not expressly refer to “service.”