Rhode Island District Court
Civil Rules of Procedure
II. COMMENCEMENT OF ACTION; SERVICE OF PROCESS, PLEADINGS,
MOTIONS AND ORDERS
- COMMENCEMENT OF ACTION; SERVICE OF PROCESS, PLEADINGS, MOTIONS AND ORDERS
RULE 3. COMMENCEMENT OF ACTION
RULE 4. PROCESS, ATTACHMENT, TRUSTEE PROCESS, ARREST
RULE 5. SERVICE AND FILING OF PLEADINGS AND OTHER PAPERS
- Summons: Form.
- Same: Issuance
- By Whom Served
- Summons: Personal Service
- Service Outside State: Personal Jurisdiction
- Service Outside the State in Certain Actions
- Service by Publication
- Attachment and Trustee Process.
- Availability of Remedies.
- Writ of Attachment: Form
- Same: Issuance.
- Same: Service.
- Attachment on Counterclaim, Cross-Claim, or Third-Party Complaint.
- Subsequent Attachment.
- Return of Service.
- Availability of Remedy
- Form and Service.
- Subsequent Writ of Arrest.
- Ne Exeat RULE 4.1 [REPEALED]
RULE 6. TIME
- Service: When Required.
- Same: How Made.
- Same: Numerous Defendants.
- Filing: No Proof of Service Required.
- Filing With the Court Defined
- Effect of Failure to File.
- For Motions--Affidavits.
- Additional Time After Service by Mail
RULE 3. COMMENCEMENT OF ACTION
A civil action is commenced (1) by filing a complaint with the court together with
payment of the entry fee prescribed by law, or (2) by depositing the complaint with said fee in
the mail addressed to the clerk, or (3) by delivery of a summons and complaint to an officer for
service. When method (3) is used, the complaint shall be filed with the court within ten (10)
days after the completion of service; but in any case where attachment of real or personal
property or attachment on trustee process has been made, the complaint shall be filed not later
than thirty (30) days after the first such attachment. If the complaint is not timely filed, the
action may be dismissed on motion and notice, and in such case the court may, in its discretion,
if it shall be of the opinion that the action was vexatiously commenced, tax a reasonable
attorney's fee as costs in favor of the defendant, to be recovered of the plaintiff or the plaintiff's
RULE 4. PROCESS, ATTACHMENT, TRUSTEE PROCESS, ARREST
- (a) Summons: Form. The summons shall bear the signature or facsimile signature of
the clerk, be under the seal of the court, contain the name of the court and the names of
the parties, be directed to the defendants, state the name and address of the plaintiff's
attorney, and the time within which these rules require the defendant to appear and
defend, and shall notify the defendant that in case of his or her failure to do so judgment
by default will be rendered against the defendant for the relief demanded in the
complaint. Process issued out of any division of the court may be made returnable in any
(b) Same: Issuance. The summons may be procured in blank from the clerk and shall
be filled out by the plaintiff's attorney as provided in subdivision (a) of this rule. The
plaintiff's attorney shall deliver to the person who is to make service the original
summons upon which to make his or her return of service and a copy of the summons and
of the complaint for service upon the defendant. Additional summons may be issued
against any defendant.
- (c) By Whom Served.
(1) Except as provided in paragraph (2) of this subdivision, service of process
shall be made by a sheriff or sheriff's deputy, within the sheriff's county unless
otherwise provided by law, by a town sergeant or constable when authorized by
law, by any other person authorized by law, or by some person specially
appointed by the court for that purpose, except that a subpoena may be served as
provided in Rule 45. Special appointments to serve process shall be made freely
when substantial savings in travel fees will result.
(2) In any circumstance where service may be made pursuant to subdivision (d),
service may also be made by mailing a copy of the summons and complaint (by
first-class mail, postage prepaid) to the person to be served together with two (2)
copies of a Notice and Acknowledgement Form (conforming substantially with
that found in the appendix to these rules) and a return envelope, postage prepaid,
addressed to the sender. If no acknowledgement of service under this paragraph
is received by the sender within twenty (20) days after the date of mailing, service
of such summons and complaint shall be made pursuant to subdivisions (d) or (e)
of this rule. Unless good cause is shown for not so doing the court shall order the
payment of costs for personal service by the person served if such person does not
complete and return to the sender within twenty (20) days after mailing, the
Notice and Acknowledgement Form. In cases where service is made pursuant to
this paragraph, the civil action shall be commenced by filing the complaint and
summons and the returned Notice and Acknowledgement Form with the court.
Service may not be made pursuant to this paragraph within six (6) months prior to
the expiration of the termination of the applicable period of limitations for the
action stated in the complaint.
(d) Summons: Personal Service. The summons and complaint shall be served together.
The plaintiff shall furnish the person making service with such copies as are necessary.
Service shall be made as follows:
(1) Upon an individual other than an incompetent person by delivering a copy of
the summons and complaint to him or her personally or by leaving copies thereof
at his or her dwelling house or usual place of abode with some person of suitable
age and discretion then residing therein or by delivering a copy of the summons
and complaint to an agent authorized by appointment or by law to receive service
of process, provided that if the agent is one designated by statute to receive
service, such further notice as the statute requires shall be given.
(2) Upon a person for whom a guardian or conservator has been appointed by
serving copies of the summons and complaint upon such guardian or conservator
and upon the incompetent person in the manner provided in paragraph (1) of this
(3) Upon a private corporation, domestic or foreign, by delivering a copy of the
summons and complaint to an officer, a managing or general agent, or by leaving
a copy of the summons and complaint at the office of the corporation with a
person employed therein, or by delivering a copy of the summons and complaint
to an agent authorized by appointment or by law to receive service of process
provided that if the agent is one designated by statute to receive service, such
further notice as the statute requires shall be given.
(4) Upon the state by delivering a copy of the summons and complaint to the
attorney general or an assistant attorney general.
(5) Upon a public corporation, body, or authority by delivering a copy of the
summons and complaint to any officer, director or manager thereof.
(e) Service Outside State: Personal Jurisdiction. When an individual or a foreign
corporation is subject to the jurisdiction of the courts of the state, service of process may
be made outside the state as follows:
(1) Upon an individual by delivery of a copy of the summons and complaint to
him personally by any disinterested person, or by mailing a copy of the summons
and complaint to the individual by registered or certified mail, return receipt
requested, or by any other method ordered by the court to give such individual
notice of the action and sufficient time to prepare any defense thereto.
(2) Upon a foreign corporation by delivery of a copy of the summons and
complaint by any disinterested person to the president, secretary, or treasurer of
such corporation or to any agent or attorney for service of process designated by
the corporation in the state of incorporation, or by mailing a copy of the summons
and complaint to any such officer or agent or to the corporation at its business
address designated in the state of incorporation by registered or certified mail,
return receipt requested, or by any other method ordered by the court to give such
corporation notice of the action and sufficient time to prepare any defense thereto.
(f) Service Outside the State in Certain Actions . Where service cannot with due
diligence be made personally within the state, service of the summons and complaint may
be made outside the state in the manner provided by subdivision (e) of this rule in the
(1) Where an interest of a person in property or credits within the state has been
brought before the court by attachment or trustee process; or
(2) Where a pleading demands a judgment that a person be excluded from a
vested or contingent interest in or lien upon specific real or personal property
within the state; or that such an interest or lien of any party be enforced,
regulated, defined, determined, or limited.
(g) Service by Publication. Whenever in an action described in subdivision (f) of this
rule complete service cannot with due diligence be made by another prescribed method,
the court shall order service by publication of a notice of the action in one or more
newspapers in such form and for such length of time as the court shall direct. If a statute
expressly provides for service of process by publication, publication shall be in the form
and manner provided by such statute.
(h) Return. The person serving the process shall make proof of service thereof on the
original process or a paper attached thereto for that purpose, and shall forthwith return it
to the plaintiff's attorney. If service is made by a person other than a sheriff, the sheriff's
deputy, or a constable licensed by the Chief Judge to serve District Court process, he
shall make affidavit thereof. Any return receipt received in connection therewith shall be
annexed to such process when returned. The plaintiff's attorney shall, within the time
during which the person served must respond to the process, file the proof of service with
the court. Failure to make proof of service does not affect the validity of the service.
(i) Amendment. At any time in its discretion and upon such terms as it deems just, the
court may allow any process or proof of service thereof to be amended, unless it clearly
appears that material prejudice would result to the substantial rights of the party against
whom the process issued.
(j) Attachment and Trustee Process.
(1) Availability of Remedies. In connection with the commencement of any
action under these rules, attachment, including trustee process, shall be available
to the extent and in the manner provided by law.
(2) Writ of Attachment: Form. The writ of attachment shall bear the signature or
facsimile signature of the clerk, be under seal of the court, contain the name of the
court, the names and residences of the parties and the trustee, if any, and the date
of the commencement of the action, be directed to the sheriff of the county or the
sheriff's deputies, or to either of the town sergeants or constables in such county,
and command them to attach the goods or estate of the defendant to the value of
the amount of the plaintiff's demand for judgment, together with a reasonable
allowance for interests and costs, and to make due return of their doings thereon.
(3) Same: Issuance. The writ of attachment may be procured in blank from the
clerk, shall be filled out by the plaintiff's attorney as provided in paragraph (2) of
this subdivision, and shall be submitted to the court with a motion for its issuance.
The motion shall be granted only upon a showing that there is a probability of a
judgment being rendered in favor of the plaintiff and that there is a need for
furnishing the plaintiff security in the amount sought for satisfaction of such
judgment, together with interest and costs. A motion hereunder shall not be
granted ex parte. Security may be required in connection with issuance of any
writ of attachment. A surety upon a bond or undertaking under this rule submits
himself or herself to the jurisdiction of the court and irrevocably appoints the
clerk of the court as his or her agent upon whom any papers affecting his or her
liability on the bond or undertaking may be served. A surety's liability may be
enforced on motion without the necessity of an independent action. The motion
and such notice of the motion as the court prescribes may be served on the clerk
of the court who shall forthwith mail copies to the persons giving the security if
their addresses are known.
(4) Same: Service. The plaintiff's attorney shall deliver to the officer making
service a copy of the proposed writ of attachment together with a copy of the
motion for its issuance and the notice of hearing thereof. When the summons and
complaint are served upon the defendant as provided in Rule 4, the defendant
shall also be served with a copy of the proposed writ of attachment and of the
motion for its issuance with the notice of the hearing thereof. An attachment
made after service of the summons and complaint shall be made as provided in
paragraph (6) of this subdivision.
(5) Attachment on Counterclaim, Cross-Claim, or Third-Party Complaint.
Attachment may be utilized by a party bringing a counterclaim, a cross-claim, or a
third-party complaint in the same manner as upon an original claim.
(6) Subsequent Attachment. After service of the summons and complaint upon
the defendant, attachment shall be available to the extent and in the manner
provided by law, shall follow the form prescribed in paragraph (2) of this
subdivision, and shall be issued in accordance with paragraph (3) of this
subdivision. All papers shall be served upon the defendant in the manner
provided for service of process under subdivisions (d) through (g) of this rule
unless the defendant has appeared in the action, in which case service shall be
made as provided in Rule 5(b).
(7) Return of Service. Upon service of a writ of attachment and copy thereof, the
person making the service shall make his or her return as provided in subdivision
(b) of this rule.
(1) Availability of Remedy. In connection with the commencement of any action
under these rules, a writ of arrest shall be available to the extent and in the manner
provided by law.
(2) Form and Service. The writ of arrest shall be obtained and filled out in the
same manner as a writ of attachment, except that the writ of arrest shall be
directed only to the sheriff and the sheriff's deputies. It shall be accompanied by
such affidavit as may be required by law, and shall be submitted to the court with
a motion for its issuance. An order of issuance shall be indorsed on the writ by
the court. Service of such writ shall be accompanied by service upon the
defendant of a copy of the summons and complaint, and return of service shall be
made in the same manner as return of service on a writ of attachment.
(3) Subsequent Writ of Arrest. After service of the summons and complaint upon
the defendant a writ of arrest shall be available to the extent and in the manner
provided by law and shall be issued and served as provided in paragraph (2) of
(4) Ne Exeat. An order of arrest may be entered when the plaintiff has demanded
and would be entitled to a judgment requiring the performance of an act, the
neglect or refusal to perform which would be punishable by the court as a
contempt, and where the defendant is not a resident of the state or is about to
depart therefrom, by reason of which nonresidence or departure there is danger
that such judgment or order will be rendered ineffectual.
RULE 4.1 [REPEALED]
RULE 5. SERVICE AND FILING OF PLEADINGS AND OTHER PAPERS
(a) Service: When Required. Except as otherwise provided in these rules, every order
required by its terms to be served, every pleading subsequent to the original complaint
unless the court otherwise orders because of numerous defendants, every written motion
other than one which may be heard ex parte, and every written notice, appearance,
demand, offer of judgment, designation of record on appeal and similar paper shall be
served upon each of the parties. No service need be made on parties in default for failure
to appear except that pleadings asserting new or additional claims for relief against them
shall be served upon them in the manner provided for service of summons in Rule 4.
(b) Same: How Made. Whenever under these rules service is required or permitted to
be made upon a party represented by an attorney, the service shall be made upon the
attorney unless service upon the party himself or herself is ordered by the court. Service
upon the attorney or upon a party shall be made by delivering a copy to the attorney or by
mailing it to the attorney at the attorney's last known address or, if no address is known,
by leaving it with the clerk of the court. Delivery of a copy within this rule means:
handing it to the person to be served; or leaving it at his or her office with his or her
clerk or other person in charge thereof; or, if there is no one in charge, leaving it in a
conspicuous place therein; or if the office is closed or the person to be served has no
office, leaving it at his or her dwelling house or usual place of abode with some person of
suitable age and discretion then residing therein. Service by mail is complete upon
(c) Same: Numerous Defendants. In any action in which there are unusually large
numbers of defendants, the court, upon motion or of its own initiative, may order that
service of the pleadings of the defendants and replies thereto need not be made as
between the defendants and that any cross-claim, counterclaim, or matter constituting an
affirmative defense contained therein shall be deemed to be denied or avoided by all
other parties and that the filing of any such pleading and service thereof upon the plaintiff
constitutes due notice of it to the parties. A copy of every such order shall be served
upon the parties in such manner and fo rm as the court directs.
(d) Filing: No Proof of Service Required. All papers after the complaint required to be
served upon a party shall be filed with the court either before service or within a
reasonable time thereafter. Such filing by a party's attorney shall constitute a
representation by him or her, subject to the obligations of Rule 11, that a copy of the
paper has been or will be served upon each of the other parties as required by subdivision
(a) of this rule. No further proof of service is required unless an adverse party raises a
question of notice. In such instance the affidavit of the person making service shall be
prima facie evidence.
(e) Filing With the Court Defined. The filing of pleadings and other papers with the
court as required by these rules shall be made by filing them with the clerk of the court,
except that the judge may permit the papers to be filed with him or her, in which event he
shall note thereon the filing date and forthwith transmit them to the office of the clerk.
(f) Effect of Failure to File. If any party to an action fails to file within five (5) days
after the service any of the papers required by this rule to be filed, the court, on motion of
any party or of its own initiative, may order the papers to be filed forthwith, and if the
order be not obeyed, the court may order them to be regarded as stricken and their service
to be of no effect.
RULE 6. TIME
(a) Computation. In computing any period of time prescribed or allowed by these rules,
by order of court or by any applicable statute the day of the act, event, or default after
which the designated period of time begins to run is not to be included. The last day of
the period is to be included, unless it is a Sunday or a legal holiday, in which event the
period runs until the end of the next day which is neither a Sunday nor a holiday.
(b) Enlargement. When by these rules or by a notice given thereunder or by order of
court an act is required or allowed to be done at or within a specified time, the court for
cause shown may at any time in its discretion
(1) with or without motion or notice order
the period enlarged if request therefor is made before the expiration of the period
originally prescribed or as extended by a previous order or
(2) upon motion made after
the expiration of the specified period permit the act to be done where the failure to act
was the result of excusable neglect or
- (3) permit the act to be done by stipulation of the
parties; but it may not extend the time for taking any action under Rules 60(b) and 73.
(c) For Motions--Affidavits. A written motion, other than one which may be heard ex
parte, and notice of the hearing thereof shall be served not later than five (5) days before
the time specified for the hearing, unless a different period is fixed by these rules or by
order of the court. Such an order may for cause shown be made on ex parte application.
When a motion is supported by affidavit, the affidavit shall be served with the motion,
and opposing affidavits may be served not later than one (1) day before the hearing,
unless the court permits them to be served at some other time.
(d) Additional Time After Service by Mail. Whenever a party has the right or is
required to do some act or take some proceedings within a prescribed period after the
service of a notice or other paper upon the party and the notice or paper is served upon
the party by mail, one (1) day shall be added to the prescribed period.