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When must a new case be served on the defendant(s) and who can serve my complaint?

Plaintiffs may not serve the complaint and related documents until the court has issued an order directing the pro se plaintiff to do so.

You must consult Federal Rule of Civil Procedure Rule 4 to determine how to serve each defendant. Rule 4 outlines different rules for serving certain types of defendants, such as business entities, government officials, and minors. Generally, anyone over the age of 18 years, who is not a party to the lawsuit, can serve the complaint. For more information on service, review this court's Simple Guide to Filing a Civil Action.