Wuchter v. Pizzutti

276 U.S. 13, 48 S. Ct. 259



If a nonresident's appearance is not directed by statute despite actual notice of the cause by serving notice outside of the state, not having been directed by the statute it can not, therefore, supply constitutional validity to the statute or to service under it. 


Plaintiff is a PA resident, and Defendant is an NJ resident. Parties got into an accident in NJ, and Defendant sued Plaintiff for damages stemming from the accident. Pursuant to the state’s nonresident service statute, Defendant served Plaintiff via the NJ Secretary of State. However, there was no requirement that either Defendant or the state of NJ notify Plaintiff that Plaintiff had been served, or prove that Plaintiff knew about the service. Plaintiff was unaware, and did not show up at any subsequent court proceedings, resulting in a judgment in Defendant’s favor. Plaintiff appealed from this judgment, on the grounds that his due process rights had been violated, because he had been deprived of his property rights without due process of law, since he was not notified of the lawsuit.


Whether plaintiff’s due process rights were violated by New Jersey’s non-notice requirement service statute


Yes, plaintiff’s due process rights were violated by the statute


The lower court’s ruling was reversed, because although plaintiff had been given actual notice by out-of-state service, he was not notified by the state that he had been served in a state in which he did not live.

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