News Stream

Certified mail delivery of revocation order does not require signed receipt

A trial court was in error when it vacated a decision and order revoking a physician's license because the licensing board's service of the documents by certified mail was ineffective without a signed receipt, the California Court of Appeals, First Appellate Dist., Div. 3, held March 1.

(Medical Board of California v. Superior Court of San Francisco)

The case stemmed from an accusation filed September 28, 2016 by the state medical board against physician Alfred Eugene Adams, alleging that Adams prescribed himself controlled substances, failed to participate in an interview with the board, and failed to provide the board with an accurate address.

The accusation was served by certified mail on Adams’ address of record in Emeryville. The unopened mail was returned to the board, stamped “Return to Sender, Unable to Forward.” After later notices sent to alternative addresses were also returned, the board issued a default decision January 20, 2017, revoking Adams’s medical license, which was served on the same date by certified mail and first-class mail to both addresses.

On appeal, Adams contended that there was no evidence of receipt of the accusations or later decision revoking his license. The trial court agreed that the default decision and order were not properly served and issued an order directing the board to set them aside.

The appeals court, however, cited state law providing that: “Wherever any notice or other communication is required by any law to be mailed by registered mail to or by the state, or any officer or agency thereof, the mailing of such notice or other communication by certified mail shall be deemed to be a sufficient compliance with the requirements of such law.” No proof of service in the form of a return receipt signed by the party is required if the notice is sent by certified mail, the court said.