Hanna v. Plumer

380 U.S. 460, 85 S. Ct. 1136 (1965)



To hold that a Federal Rule of Civil Procedure must cease to function whenever it alters the mode of enforcing state-created rights would be to disembowel either the United States Constitution's grant of power over federal procedure or Congress' attempt to exercise that power in the Rules Enabling Act, 28 U.S.C.S. § 2072.


Petitioner injured party brought a personal injury suit against respondent executor. Service of process was made in compliance with Fed. R. Civ. P. 4(d)(1). The appeals court affirmed the decision of the district court, which granted summary judgment for respondent and the Court reversed on appeal. Petitioner argued that in a civil action where jurisdiction was based upon diversity, service of process could be made according to Fed. R. Civ. P. 4(d)(1) and did not have to be made in the manner prescribed by state law. 


Should the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 4(d)(1) be applied in a federal court exercising diversity jurisdiction?




The Court held that in a suit where a plaintiff happened to be a non-resident, and a right was enforceable in a federal as well as in a state court, the forms and mode of enforcing the right may at times, vary because the two judicial systems were not identical. The Court held that the adoption of Fed. R. Civ. P. 4(d)(1), designed to control service of process in diversity actions, neither exceeded the congressional mandate embodied in the Rules Enabling Act nor transgressed constitutional bounds, and that Rule 4(d)(1) was therefore the standard against which the district court should have measured the adequacy of the service.

Click here to view the full text case and earn your Daily Research Points.