369 U.S. 463 (1962), 101, Goldlawr, Inc. v. Heiman

Docket Nº:No. 101
Citation:369 U.S. 463, 82 S.Ct. 913, 8 L.Ed.2d 39
Party Name:Goldlawr, Inc. v. Heiman
Case Date:April 30, 1962
Court:United States Supreme Court

Page 463

369 U.S. 463 (1962)

82 S.Ct. 913, 8 L.Ed.2d 39

Goldlawr, Inc.

v.

Heiman

No. 101

United States Supreme Court

April 30, 1962

Argued March 19, 1962

CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS

FOR THE SECOND CIRCUIT

Syllabus

Petitioner brought this private antitrust action for treble damages and other relief under §§ 1 and 2 of the Sherman Act and § 4 of the Clayton Act in a Federal District Court in Pennsylvania. On a motion to dismiss on grounds of improper venue and want of personal jurisdiction over the defendants, that Court found that venue was improperly laid as to two of the corporate defendants because they were not inhabitants of, "found" or transacting business in Pennsylvania; but, instead of dismissing the action, it used its authority under 28 U.S.C. § 1406(a) to transfer the case to the Southern District of New York, where venue was proper because the defendants could be found and transacted business there and personal jurisdiction over them could be obtained by service of process under § 12. These two corporate defendants then moved the Federal District Court in New York to dismiss the action on the ground that the District Court in Pennsylvania did not have personal jurisdiction over them and, therefore, lacked power under § 1406(a) to transfer the action.

Held: Section 1406 (a) is not limited to cases in which the transferring court has personal jurisdiction over the defendants, and the District Court in Pennsylvania acted within its authority. Pp. 464-467.

288 F.2d 579 reversed.

Page 464

BLACK, J., lead opinion

MR. JUSTICE BLACK delivered the opinion of the Court.

This private antitrust action for treble damages and other relief under §§ 1 and 2 of the Sherman Act1 and § 4 of the Clayton Act2 was brought by the petitioner against a number of defendants in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. After hearings on a motion to dismiss the action on grounds of improper venue and lack of personal jurisdiction over the defendants, the Pennsylvania District Court agreed that venue was improperly laid as to two of the corporate defendants3 because they were neither inhabitants of, "found," nor transacting business in Pennsylvania, these being the alternative prerequisites for venue under § 12 of the Clayton Act.4 That court refused to dismiss the action as to these defendants, however, choosing instead to use [82 S.Ct. 915] its authority under 28 U.S.C. § 1406(a) to transfer it to the Southern District of New York, where, because the defendants could be found and transacted business, venue was proper and personal jurisdiction could be obtained over them by service of process under § 12. These two corporate defendants then appeared in the New York District Court and moved to have the case dismissed by that court on the ground that the Pennsylvania District Court had not had personal jurisdiction over them and, lacking such personal jurisdiction, it had not had power under § 1406(a) to transfer the

Page 465

action.5 The New York District Court granted this motion on the ground asserted,6 and the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, with Judge Hincks dissenting, affirmed on the same ground.7 Because this decision presented a conflict with the uniform course of decisions previously made on this same question by other Courts of Appeal,8 we granted certiorari.9

Section 1406(a), under which the Pennsylvania District Court transferred this case, provides:

The district court of a district in which is filed a case laying venue in the wrong division or district shall dismiss, or if it be in the interest of justice, transfer such case to any district or division in which it could have been brought.

Nothing in that language indicates that the operation of the section was intended to be limited to actions in which the transferring court has personal jurisdiction over the defendants. And we cannot agree that such a restrictive interpretation can be supported by its legislative history

Page 466

-- either that relied upon by the Court of Appeals10 or any other that has been brought to our attention. The problem which gave rise to the enactment of the section was that of avoiding the injustice which had often resulted to plaintiffs from dismissal of their actions merely because they had made an erroneous guess with regard to the existence of some elusive fact of the kind upon which venue provisions often turn. Indeed, this case is itself a typical example of the problem sought to be avoided, for dismissal here would have resulted in plaintiff's losing a substantial part of its cause of action under the statute of limitations merely because it made a mistake in thinking that the respondent corporations could be "found" or that they "transact . . . business" in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.11 The language and history of § 1406(a), [82 S.Ct. 916] both as originally enacted12 and as amended in 1949,13 show a congressional purpose to provide as effective a remedy as possible to avoid precisely this sort of injustice.

The language of § 1406(a) is amply broad enough to authorize the transfer of cases, however wrong the plaintiff may have been in filing his case as to venue, whether the court in which it was filed had personal jurisdiction over the defendants or not. The section is thus in accord with the general purpose which has prompted many of the procedural...

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