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Mileage Abuse
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Mileage Abuse

 
When House Bill 4899 was sponsored by Representative Julian the change in the mileage rate was designed to reflect the actual cost of operating a motor vehicle. The change to allow mileage from the place where the court that issued or filed the process or paper is located to the place of service was designed to create a fairer way of calculating mileage for process servers.
 
One unintended consequence of this new law is the abuse in the mileage being charged by members and nonmembers across the state. One of the most disturbing issues for me is one of our former board members is participating in this abuse.
 
I received a call from a state Representative’s office regarding a complaint that his office received involving mileage on a service of civil process. An attorney in Coldwater sent a paper to a non CODSA member process server in Kalamazoo for service. The defendant lived in Galesburg which is located in Kalamazoo County. The process server charged mileage from Coldwater to Galesburg however he did not actually travel that distance and in my opinion he is not entitled to that mileage.
 
The law says:
 
600.2555 Process server; traveling fees.
A person authorized by this act or supreme court rule to serve process or a paper issued by or filed with a court in this state is only entitled to traveling fees for the service from the place where the court that issued or filed the process or paper is located to the place of service, not to exceed 75 miles each way.
 
600.2559 Fees for service of process;
(4) Mileage allowed under subsection (1) shall be 1-1/2 times the rate allowed by the state civil service commission for employees in the state classified civil service. Mileage shall be computed, each way, by the shortest distance from the place where the court that issued or filed the process or paper is located to the place of service.
 
(6) A person authorized by this act or supreme court rule to serve process or papers out of a court in this state who demands and receives a greater fee or compensation for performing a service mentioned in this section than allowed by this section shall, in addition to all other liabilities provided by law, be liable to the party injured by paying the illegal fees for 3 times the amount of illegal fees actually paid, together with all costs of the action.
 
600.2513 Allowable fees, compensation, or reward for service.
Sec. 2513.
A judge of any court, sheriff, bailiff, district court magistrate, or other officer, or other person except attorneys at law to whom any fees or compensation shall be allowed by law for any service, shall not take or receive any other or greater fee or reward for his service, but such as is or shall be allowed by the laws of this state.
 
There is an old saying “pigs get fat and hogs get slaughtered and I can assure you that I will work with the Representative to fix this misconception in the law. In my opinion you are only entitled to fees for the mileage that you actually travel. When calculating mileage fees both MCL 600.2555 and 600.2559 must be taken into account. However, MCL 600.2559 does allow for mileage to be charged for each defendant even if they are served at the same time.
 
The intent of the mileage change was to fix this type of situation:
 
            Under the old system, if my office located in Jackson, had a paper issued out of the Jackson court to serve on a defendant who resided within one mile of the courthouse in Albion. I would only be allowed to charge mileage from the courthouse in Albion or 1 mile each way. Under the current system I can charge the actual mileage traveled from Jackson to Albion or 20 miles each way.
 
The new system if used properly is fair and I encourage anyone who is of the opinion that it is legal to charge mileage for miles that you did not travel to reconsider that position. In my opinion it is illegal and I will do what ever I can to stop this unethical behavior. Violation of this section shall be deemed a misdemeanor; and the person guilty thereof shall be liable to the party aggrieved for treble the damages sustained by him and such violation shall be a cause for forfeiture of office. Violation of MCL 600.2513 shall be deemed a misdemeanor; and the person guilty thereof shall be liable to the party aggrieved for treble the damages sustained by him and such violation shall be a cause for forfeiture of office.
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