What Makes a Diligent Search and Inquiry Diligent, Exactly?

January 11, 2011

In order to obtain service by publication there must be a “diligent search and inquiry” for the party being served.  It is the obligation of the party seeking service to embark upon this diligent search, and an affidavit attesting that such a search has indeed been performed must be filed with the court before attempt at service by publication can be valid.[1]

But what does a diligent search and inquiry look like?  The statutes aren’t very helpful in this regard, but the the case law might be instructive.  If  we look at the 1926 Florida Supreme Court case of Ortell v. Ortell,[2] we see at least what a diligent search ought not to look like:

The fact that this affidavit stated that the affiant believed the present mail address of the defendant to be Hendersonville, North Carolina, does not cure the defect with reference to the inadequacy of the affidavit as applied to the residence of the defedant […]. For aught that appears in the affidavit, this “mailing address” may have been purely transient, temporary, and ineffective.  Furthermore, in view of the generality of the mailing address given, it would have been a better compliance with the spirit of the statute either to have given the street address in Hendersonville, which we judicially know was by no means a village[.]


[1] § 49.051 Fla. Stat. (2010)

[2] Marie Phyllis Ortell v. Frank J. Ortell, 91 Fla. 50 (1926)

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