Law School Case Brief
Goldlawr, Inc. v. Heiman - 369 U.S. 463
Nothing in the language of 28 U.S.C.S. § 1406 indicates that the operation of the statute was intended to be limited to actions in which the transferring court has personal jurisdiction over the defendants.
Petitioner Goldlawr filed a private antitrust action for treble damages and other relief under §§ 1 and 2 of the Sherman Act and § 4 of the Clayton Act against a number of defendants in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. After hearings on a motion to dismiss the action on grounds of improper venue and lack of personal jurisdiction over the defendants, the Pennsylvania district court agreed that venue was improper as to two of the corporate defendants because they were neither inhabitants of,"found" nor transacting business in Pennsylvania, these being the alternative prerequisites for venue under § 12 of the Clayton Act. That court refused to dismiss the action as to these defendants, however, choosing instead to use its authority under 28 U.S.C.S. § 1406(a) to transfer the case to the Southern District of New York where, because the defendants could be found and transacted business, venue was proper and personal jurisdiction could be obtained over them by service of process under § 12. These two corporate defendants then appeared in the New York district court and moved to have the case dismissed by that court on the ground that the Pennsylvania district court had lacked personal jurisdiction over them and lacked authority under § 1406(a) to transfer the action. The district court granted the motion to dismiss, which was affirmed on appeal to the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.
Was the transfer of cases authorized by 28 U.S.C.S. § 1406(a) even where the court lacked personal jurisdiction over the defendant?
The United States Supreme Court reversed and held that nothing in the language of 28 U.S.C.S. § 1406(a) indicated that its operation was intended to be limited to actions in which the transferring court had personal jurisdiction over the corporations. The Court determined that the language of 28 U.S.C.S. § 1406(a) was broad enough to authorize the transfer of the case, however wrong the plaintiff might have been in filing his case as to venue and regardless of whether the court in which it was filed had personal jurisdiction over the corporations. The Court concluded that the appellate court erred in upholding the district court's order dismissing the action as to the corporations.
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