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U.S. Supreme Court

Old Wayne Mut. Life Ass'n v. McDonough, 204 U.S. 8 (1907)

Old Wayne Mut. Life Association v. McDonough

No. 57

Argued October 25, 1906

Decided January 7, 1907

204 U.S. 8


A statute of Pennsylvania provides:

"No insurance company not of this state, nor its agents, shall do business in this state until it has filed with the Insurance Commissioner of this state a written stipulation, duly authenticated by the company, agreeing that any legal process affecting the company, served on the Insurance Commissioner, or the party designated by him, or the agent specified by the company to receive service of process for said company, shall have the same effect as if served personally on the company within this state, and if such company should cease to maintain such agent in this state so designated such process may thereafter be served on the Insurance Commissioner."

An insurance company of Indiana issued a policy of insurance upon the life of a citizen of Pennsylvania, the beneficiaries being also citizens of that Commonwealth. The contract of insurance was made in Indiana without the insurance company having filed the stipulation required by

Page 204 U. S. 9

the local statute as to service of process upon the Insurance Commissioner of Pennsylvania. A suit was brought on the contract in a Pennsylvania court, process was served on the state Insurance Commissioner alone, a personal judgment taken against the insurance company, and suit brought on that judgment in an Indiana court. The company did some business in Pennsylvania which had no relation to the contract made in Indiana. Held that:

1. If the defendant had no such actual legal notice of the Pennsylvania suit as would bring it into court, or if it did not voluntarily appear therein by an authorized representative, then the Pennsylvania court was without jurisdiction to render a personal judgment against the company.

2. The constitutional requirement that full faith and credit be given in each state to the public acts, records and judicial proceedings of every other state is necessarily to be interpreted in connection with other provisions of the Constitution, and therefore no state can obtain in the tribunals of other jurisdictions full faith and credit for its judicial proceedings if they are wanting in the due process of law enjoined by the fundamental law.

3. If the conclusiveness of a judgment or decree in a court of one state is questioned in a court of another government, federal or state, it is open, under proper averments, to inquire whether the court rendering the decree or judgment had jurisdiction to render it.

4. Where an insurance company or corporation of one state goes into another state to transact business in defiance of its statute as to service of process, it will, in an action against it in such state, be held to have assented to the terms prescribed by the local statute for service of process in respect to business done in that state, but its assent in that regard will not be implied as to business not transacted in that state.

5. If a personal judgment be rendered in one state against a corporation of another state, bringing such corporation into court, that is, without any legal notice to the latter of the suit and without its having appeared therein in person or by attorney or agent, it is void for want of due process of law.

164 Ind. 321 reversed.

The facts are stated in the opinion.

Page 204 U. S. 12

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