Parties to a contract may agree in advance to submit to the jurisdiction of a given court, to permit notice to be served by the opposing party, or even to waive notice altogether.
Petitioner equipment rental company entered into a lease agreement with respondents for farm equipment. Respondents, residents of Michigan, defaulted on the lease and petitioner filed suit in its home state, New York. Pursuant to its contract agreement with respondents, petitioner served a summons upon respondent's agent in New York. The agent forwarded the summons and notified respondents of the underlying lawsuit. Respondents objected to this service of summons under Fed. R. Civ. P. 4(d), arguing that the agent was unknown to respondents and the agent has not expressly undertaken to transmit notice to the party. The district court quashed service of the summons and complaint and on appeal, was affirmed by the appellate court.
Was summons properly served?
The United States Supreme Court held that respondents had been properly served the summons for the lawsuit when the agent forwarded the summons to them, and they were aware of the lawsuit. The Court also determined that the parties properly agreed to have the agent receive notice on behalf of respondents, and it was irrelevant that the agent was unknown to respondents.