It’s now been twelve days since Tim Kelly filed suit against City Councilman Art Shad and, according to the Duval County Clerk’s office, Shad has yet to be served the summons, complaint and proposed discovery.
Normally, this would not be so unusual as it is often difficult to locate a defendant or catch him or her so that service can be perfected. This is why the Florida Rules of Civil Procedure provides 120 days from the date the complaint is filed to serve a defendant.
But here, we’re talking about a public figure and a suit that was in the papers and on the news a few days after it was filed.
It is not uncommon for a party (especially a public figure) to consent to service to avoid the embarrassment of having a sheriff show up on your front steps handing you suit papers while your neighbors are watching behind curtains and hedgerows (as if having your name splashed all over the news for decking some innocent guy or admitting to a drug dependency isn’t embarrassing enough).
So why the delay in service? One theory I have is that Kelly was merely firing a shot across the proverbial bow by filing suit to get Art to take settlement negotiations seriously, but that he otherwise has no intention in engaging in time consuming litigation.
If this is the case, and I hope it's not, then I think Kelly is wasting his time. Afterall, Shad was quoted as saying that Kelly’s claim is only about money. Clearly Shad refuses to dignify any negotiations with a reasonable offer to settle.
A lawsuit with full blown discovery and depositions may be the only thing that Shad will take serious as he'll be required to answer questions, under oath, that would not bode well for his standing within the (obviously ignorant and blind) community.
Is Shad truly unwilling to accept the consequences of his violent actions by refusing to compensate a man whose lip he split open (which, by the way, I think elevates the crime to a felony assault)? Apparently, yes. If his wife has to take him to court to get child support and alimony, then it should come as no surprise that he would duck civil liability here.