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How do I serve a Washington corporation?

To serve process on a Washington corporation, you have to provide a copy of the summons, personal injury complaint, and case setting schedule. In this respect, it is just like serving an individual defendant.

Who you serve, however, is different.

RCW 4.28.080(9) tells you can properly accept service on behalf of a corporation. The list is long but also very specific:

  • The president or other "head of the company"
  • The corporate secretary
  • The corporate cashier
  • The managing agent
  • The corporation's registered agent

You can also serve the stenographer or office assistant of any one of these individuals.

Note who you can't serve: the vice president, the chief financial officer, or one of the board of directors, for instance. As you can see, the list is not intuitive. You may wonder why the cashier can accept service but not the chief financial officer can't, but that's the law in Washington.

Sometimes the person's title is not a clear indicator.  What about the officer manager? Perhaps, depending on his duties, he may qualify as the office's "managing agent." 

Or what about a medical clinic's administrative manager?  If she serves as the office assistant for the registered agent, then yes, but otherwise no.

These aren't just hypotheticals. These fact patterns come straight out of Washington court cases decided over the past 15 years. 

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