“Service of process” refers to the delivery of a copy of the summons and a copy of the complaint to each person who must respond.  The person who must respond to the complaint is known as the defendant (the person defending against the lawsuit).  The delivery of court papers to a defendant is also known as “serving” a defendant.  

The summons tells the defendant:

  • the name and docket number of the court case,
  • the court where the case is filed,
  • the name and address of the plaintiff or plaintiff’s attorney,
  • what the defendant must do to respond,
  • how much time the defendant has to respond, and
  • what can happen if the defendant does not respond.  

The complaint tells the defendant what the lawsuit is about.