Friedberg v Santa Cruz

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court (New York)
Date05 November 1948
Docket NumberCase No. 103
United States, Supreme Court of the State of New York, Special Term, Nassau County, Part II.
Case No. 103
Friedberg
and
Santa Cruz.

Diplomatic Immunity — Immunity from Jurisdiction — Waiver of — By Pleading to the Merits.

Diplomatic Immunity — Immunity from Jurisdiction — Waiver of — By Obtaining Motor Driving Licence.

United Nations — Privileges and Immunities of Delegates — Jurisdictional Immunity.

Diplomatic Immunity — Immunity from Jurisdiction — Method of Claiming — Necessity for Special Appearance.

The Facts.—This was an action for damages arising out of an accident in which the plaintiff was injured as a result of the negligence of the defendant Adriana Santa Cruz in the management and operation of an automobile owned by her husband, the defendant Hernon Santa Cruz. The defendants appeared generally, and their pleadings joined issue on the merits. They also, however, claimed diplomatic immunity in the territory of the United States under the provisions of Public Law 357, Section 15, 61 Stat. 756, 762, on the ground that at the time of the commencement of the action the husband was Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary, Permanent Representative to the United Nations from the Republic of Chile. The defendant Adriana Santa Cruz as the wife of the said Ambassador claimed that she was for that reason entitled likewise to diplomatic privileges and immunities. It was contended therefore that the Court had no jurisdiction of the causes of action or of the persons of said defendants.

In the course of the proceedings, the defendants' method of raising the question of jurisdiction was also called in issue.

Held: that the claim of immunity must fail. The defendants had submitted to the jurisdiction of the Court by appearing generally, and in any event they must be deemed to have waived their immunity by obtaining a New York State motorcar driving licence. The Court said:

“It is clear that if the defendants did not intend to subject themselves to the jurisdiction of this court, they should have appeared specially and moved to quash or set aside the service of process upon them because of lack of such jurisdiction. McClure Newspaper Syndicate v. Times Printing Co. of Seattle, 164 App. Div. 108, 149 N.Y.S. 443. By interposing an answer and joining issue on the merits of the action, the defendants have submitted to the court's jurisdiction over their person and property notwithstanding that in addition they have affirmatively asserted the defense of...

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