Hess v. Pawloski

274 U.S. 352, 47 S. Ct. 632 (1927)

 

RULE:

A state's power to regulate the use of its highways extends to their use by non-residents as well as by residents. A state may declare that the use of the highway by a non-resident is the equivalent of the appointment of the registrar as agent on whom process may be served.

FACTS:

A Pennsylvania resident negligently and wantonly drove a motor vehicle on a public highway in Massachusetts and struck and injured an individual in the process. A case was filed against him to recover damages for the personal injuries. No personal service was made on him and no property belonging to him was attached. The service of process was made in compliance with Massachusetts Law. Pennsylvania resident argued that service of process deprived him of his property without due process of law.

ISSUE:

Did the Massachusetts Court properly acquire personal jurisdiction over the Pennsylvania resident?

ANSWER:

Yes.

CONCLUSION:

The Court declared that Massachusetts had personal jurisdiction over him where the state, if making no hostile discrimination against non-residents, could declare the use of a highway by a non-resident was the equivalent of the appointment of the registrar as agent on whom process may be served, such that service was made upon plaintiff in error's authorized agent. The Court further held that in order to obtain personal jurisdiction over a non-resident, there had to be actual service within the state of notice upon him or upon someone authorized to accept service for him. The Court further held the state, if making no hostile discrimination against non-residents, was empowered to declare that the use of a highway by a non-resident was the equivalent of the appointment of the registrar as agent on whom process could be served. Accordingly, the judgment that denied plaintiff in error's request for dismissal was affirmed.

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