Bauer Intern. Corp. v. Cagle's, Inc., 25408

Citation225 Ga. 684,171 S.E.2d 314
Decision Date06 November 1969
Docket NumberNo. 25408,25408
CourtSupreme Court of Georgia

Syllabus by the Court

1. The word 'nonresident' as used in the original long arm statute of this State (Ga.L.1966, pp. 343-344) did not include corporations.

2. The amendment of 1968 (Ga.L.1968, pp. 1419-1420), which defined 'nonresident' to include certain foreign corporations, does not apply to a cause of action arising prior to the effective date of the amendment.

King & Spalding, Kirk McAlpin, a. Felton Jenkins, Jr., Charles L. Gowen, Atlanta, for appellant.

Swift, Currie, McGhee & Hiers, Warner S. Currie, James T. McDonald, Jr., Atlanta, for appellee.

Donald A. Weissman, Louis Regenstein, Jerre B. Swann, George B. Haley, Jr., Atlanta, amicus curiae.

Sutherland, Asbill & Brennan, D. R. Cumming, Jr., Bennett L. Kight, Atlanta, for party at interest not party to record.

MOBLEY, Presiding Justice.

This appeal by Bauer International Corporation is from the denial of its motions to dismiss and quash service. The question presented is whether the appellant, a New York corporation, is subject to the jurisdiction of the Civil Court of Fulton County under Code Ann. § 24-113.1 et seq. (Ga.L.1966, pp. 343-344, as amended by Ga.L.1968, pp. 1419-1420), in an action on a debt by Gagles, Inc., a Georgia corporation. The appeal was certified by the trial judge for immediate review.

In its enumerations of error the appellant contends that the trial court erred in denying its motions to dismiss and to quash service for the following reasons: (1) The statute commonly referred to as to Georgia long arm statute (Ga.L.1966, pp. 343-344, as amended by Ga.L.1968, pp. 1419-1420) is unconstitutional in that it violates the due process clauses of the State and Federal Constitutions. (2) The statute did not apply to corporations prior to the effective date of the 1968 amendment, and this amendment cannot be applied retroactively or retrospectively to include causes of action which arose prior to the effective date of the 1968 amendment. (3) The claim against the appellant did not come within the term '(t)ransacts any business within this State,' or any other basis for jurisdiction in the long arm statute.

The asserted claim of the appellee was for goods sold and delivered to the appellant through 1967.

1. The 1966 Act provided in § 1 as follows: 'A court of this State may exercise personal jurisdiction over any non-resident, or his executor or administrator, as to cause of action arising from any of the acts, ownership, use or possession enumerated in this section, in the same menner as if he were a resident of the State, if in person or through an agent, he: (a) Transacts any business within this State; or (b) Commits a tortious act within this State, except as to a cause of action for defamation of character arising from the act; or (c) Owns, uses or possesses any real property situated within this State.' Section 3, in regard to the manner of service states: 'A person subject to the jurisdiction of the courts of the State under section 1 of this Act, or his executor or administrator, may be served etc.' Code Ann. §§ 24-113.1, 24-115.

It is our view that this language can not reasonably be construed to include corporations. The words 'or his executor or administrator' in these sections could only refer to a natural person. If the words 'any nonresident' should be construed to include foreign corporations, the question would arise as to which foreign corporations were intended, since at the time of the passage of the 1966 Act, foreign corporations doing business in Georgia were already subject to the jurisdiction of the courts of this State by service of process on designated agents or upon the Secretary of State, if no agent was designated. Ga.L.1946, pp. 687, 688. The 1968 amendment, in defining the term nonresident to include foreign corporations, describes specifically the foreign corporations included within the term.

In Wilen Manufacturing Co. v. Standard Products Co., 409 F.2d 56, the United States Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the ruling by Judge Smith of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia that the term 'nonresident' in the Georgia long arm statute (before amendment) was restricted to natural persons and not applicable to corporations. The Circuit Court rejected the 'linguistic analysis' of the District Court and sought for 'legislative purpose.' It concluded that 'restricting the long arm statute to natural persons would in large measure frustrate the objective of affording a local forum to Georgia citizens who have causes of action arising from the local activity of those residing out of state,' and that this was not intended by the Georgia General Assembly. Interpretation of the statute was made by the Federal courts because of the absence of any ruling by the appellate courts of this State on the question. The decision of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals is, of course, not binding on this court.

We think the true test for the interpretaion of a statute is not a judicial determination of its desired result, but a determination of the intention of the legislature as it is expressed by the language of the statute. It would be a strained and unreasonable construction of the language used in the 1966 long arm statute to hold that the word 'nonresident' as used in the statute was intended to include foreign corporations, and we hold that it was not the intention of the General Assembly to include corporations.

2. Section 4A of the 1968 amendment to the long arm statute defines the term 'nonresident,' and includes in this definition 'a corporation which is not organized or existing under the laws of this State and is not authorized to do or transact business in this State at the time a claim or cause of action under section 1 of this Act arises.' Ga.L.1968, pp. 1419, 1420; Code Ann. § 24-117.

It is contended by the appellee that even if the word 'nonresident' in the 1966 long arm statute is construed not to include corporations,...

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22 cases
  • Butcher v. Pollard
    • United States
    • Ohio Court of Appeals
    • September 28, 1972
    ...N.E.2d 99; see Ray Schools-Chicago-Inc. v. Cummins (1957), 12 Ill.2d 376, 381, 146 N.E.2d 42, 45; Bauer Internat'l Corp. v. Cagle's, Inc. (1969), 225 Ga. 684, 686, 171 S.E.2d 314, 316-317.20 Gibson v. McNeely (1860), 11 Ohio St. 131, which held that an illegitimate daughter could not take a......
  • Atlanta Cas. Co. v. Flewellen
    • United States
    • Georgia Court of Appeals
    • December 1, 1982
    ...primary concern is whether Code Ann. § 56-3404b(b) is plain and unambiguous as this court has stated in Jones. Bauer International Corp. v. Cagles, 225 Ga. 684, 686, 171 S.E.2d 314. To resolve this issue one must look not only to the literal language of the statute but also to the recognize......
  • Coe & Payne Co. v. Wood-Mosaic Corp.
    • United States
    • Georgia Court of Appeals
    • March 10, 1972
    ...this sort. The Long-Arm Statute involves substantive rights and is therefore not to be applied retroactively. Bauer International Corp. v. Cagles, Inc., 225 Ga. 684, 171 S.E.2d 314. The statute gives jurisdiction as to causes of action which arise from certain enumerated acts. Regardless of......
  • Griffin v. Air South, Inc., Civ. A. No. 13559-13562
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Northern District of Georgia
    • March 24, 1971 controlling and that Beech was properly served under § 24-113.1(c). A contrary result is not required by Bauer International Corp. v. Cagles, 225 Ga. 684, 171 S.E.2d 314 (1969). Bauer held that the 1968 amendment to Ga. Code Ann. § 24-117, which included corporations within the meaning o......
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