In Personam Proceedings Against Individuals

In Personam Proceedings Against Individuals.—How jurisdiction is determined depends on the nature of the suit being brought. If a dispute is directed against a person, not property, the proceedings are considered in personam, and jurisdiction must be established over the defendant's person in order to render an effective decree.818 Generally, presence within the State is sufficient to create personal jurisdiction over an individual, if process is served.819 In the case of a resident who is absent from the state, domicile alone is deemed to be sufficient to keep him within reach of the state courts for purposes of a personal judgment, and process can be obtained by means of appropriate, substituted service or by actual personal service on the resident outside the State.820 However, if the defendant, although technically domiciled therein, has left the State with no intention to return, service by publication, as compared to a summons left at his last and usual place of abode where his family continued to reside, is inadequate, inasmuch as it is not reasonably calculated to give actual notice of the proceedings and opportunity to be heard.821

With respect to a nonresident, it is clearly established that no person can be deprived of property rights by a decree in a case in which he neither appeared nor was served or effectively made a party.822 The early cases held that the process of a court of one State could not run into another and summon a resident of that state to respond to proceedings against him, when neither his person nor his property was within the jurisdiction of the court rendering the judgment.823 This rule, however, has been attenuated in a series of steps.

818 National Exchange Bank v. Wiley, 195 U.S. 257, 270 (1904); Iron Cliffs Co. v. Negaunee Iron Co., 197 U.S. 463, 471 (1905).

819 McDonald v. Mabee, 243 U.S. 90, 91 (1917). Cf. Michigan Trust Co. v. Ferry, 228 U.S. 346 (1913). The rule has been strongly criticized but persists. Ehrenzweig, The Transient Rule of Personal Jurisdiction: The 'Power' Myth and Forum Conveniens, 65 YALE L. J. 289 (1956). But in Burnham v. Superior Court, 495 U.S. 604 (1990), the Court held that service of process on a nonresident physically present within the state satisfies due process regardless of the duration or purpose of the nonresident's visit.

820 Milliken v. Meyer, 311 U.S. 457 (1940).

821 McDonald v. Mabee, 243 U.S. 90 (1917).

822 Rees v. Watertown, 86 U.S. (19 Wall.) 107 (1874); Coe v. Armour Fertilizer Works, 237 U.S. 413, 423 (1915); Griffin v. Griffin, 327 U.S. 220 (1946).

823 Sugg v. Thornton, 132 U.S. 524 (1889); Riverside Mills v. Menefee, 237 U.S. 189, 193 (1915); Hess v. Pawloski, 274 U.S. 352, 355 (1927). See also Harkness v. Hyde, 98 U.S. 476 (1879); Wilson v. Seligman, 144 U.S. 41 (1892).

Consent has always been sufficient to create jurisdiction, even in the absence of any other connection between the litigation and the forum. For example, the appearance of the defendant for any purpose other than to challenge the jurisdiction of the court was deemed a voluntary submission to the court's power,824 and even a special appearance to deny jurisdiction might be treated as consensual submission to the court.825 The concept of "constructive consent" was then seized upon as a basis for obtaining jurisdiction. For instance, with the advent of the automobile, States were permitted to engage in the fiction that the use of their highways was conditioned upon the consent of drivers to be sued in state courts for accidents or other transactions arising out of such use. Thus, a state could designate a state official as a proper person to receive service of process in such litigation, and establishing jurisdiction required only that the official receiving notice communicate it to the person sued.826

Although the Court approved of the legal fiction that such jurisdiction arose out of consent, the basis for jurisdiction was really the State's power to regulate acts done in the state that were dangerous to life or property.827 Inasmuch as the State did not really have the ability to prevent nonresidents from doing business in their state,828 this extension was necessary in order to permit States to assume jurisdiction over individuals "doing business" within the State. Thus, the Court soon recognized that "doing business" within a State was itself a sufficient basis for jurisdiction over a nonresident individual, at least where the business done was exceptional enough to create a strong state interest in regulation, and service could be effectuated within the State on an agent appointed to carry out the business.829

824 Louisville & Nashville R.R. v. Schmidt, 177 U.S. 230 (1900); Western Loan & Savings Co. v. Butte & Boston Min. Co., 210 U.S. 368 (1908); Houston v. Ormes, 252 U.S. 469 (1920). See also Adam v. Saenger, 303 U.S. 59 (1938) (plaintiff suing defendants deemed to have consented to jurisdiction with respect to counterclaims asserted against him).

825 State legislation which provides that a defendant who comes into court to challenge the validity of service upon him in a personal action surrenders himself to the jurisdiction of the court, but which allows him to dispute where process was served, is constitutional and does not deprive him of property without due process of law. In such a situation, the defendant may ignore the proceedings as wholly ineffective, and attack the validity of the judgment if and when an attempt is made to take his property thereunder. If he desires, however, to contest the validity of the court proceedings and he loses, it is within the power of a State to require that he submit to the jurisdiction of the court to determine the merits. York v. Texas, 137 U.S. 15 (1890); Kauffman v. Wootters, 138 U.S. 285 (1891); Western Indemnity Co. v. Rupp, 235 U.S. 261 (1914)

826 Hess v. Pawloski, 274 U.S. 352 (1927): Wuchter v. Pizzutti, 276 U.S. 13 (1928); Olberding v. Illinois Cent. R.R., 346 U.S. 338, 341 (1953).

The culmination of this trend, established in the case of International Shoe Co. v. Washington,830 was the requirement that there be "minimum contacts" with the State in question in order to establish jurisdiction. The outer limit of this test is illustrated by Kulko v. Superior Court,831 in which the Court held that California could not obtain personal jurisdiction over a New York resident whose sole relevant contact with the State was to send his daughter to live with her mother in California832 The argument was made that the father had "caused an effect" in the State by availing himself of the benefits and protections of California's laws and by deriving an economic benefit in the lessened expense of maintaining the daughter in New York. The Court explained that, "[l]ike any standard that requires a determination of 'reasonableness,' the 'minimum contacts' test . . . is not susceptible of mechanical application; rather, the facts of each case must be weighed to determine whether the requisite 'affiliating circumstances' are present."833 Although the Court noted that the "effects" test had been accepted as a test of contacts when wrongful activity outside a State causes injury within the State or when commercial activity affects state residents, the Court found that these factors were not present in this case, and any economic benefit to Kulko was derived in New York and not in California.834 As with many such cases, the decision was narrowly limited to its facts and does little to clarify the standards applicable to state jurisdiction over non-residents.

827 Hess v. Pawloski, 274 U.S. 352, 356-57 (1927).

828 274 U.S. at 355. See Flexner v. Farson, 248 U.S. 289, 293 (1919).

829 Henry L. Doherty & Co. v. Goodman, 294 U.S. 623 (1935).

830 326 U.S. 310, 316 (1945).

831 436 U.S. 84 (1978).

832 Kulko had visited the State twice, seven and six years respectively before initiation of the present action, his marriage occurring in California on the second visit, but neither the visits nor the marriage was sufficient or relevant to jurisdiction. 436 U.S. at 92-93.

833 436 U.S. at 92.

834 436 U.S. at 96-98.

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