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PA Superior Court Holds Service on Franchisee’s Employee Ineffective to Complete Service on Franchisor

In Trexler vs. McDonalds Corp. (June 3, 2015), the Pennsylvania Superior Court was asked to decide whether a corporate franchisor was properly served with original process where the plaintiff served the franchisee’s employee at a restaurant location that was operated on property owned by the franchisor.  The court held that this was not proper service under Rule 424 (service on corporations and similar entities).

In reaching this conclusion, the court stressed that the franchisor’s ownership and lease of the property to the franchisee did not obviate the need to serve a person authorized to accept service within the meaning of Rule 424. This decision should serve as an important reminder that the separate existences of different entities is not lightly disregarded, even where the entities are engaged in related business activities.

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