Gee v. International Life Insurance Company, No. 50

CourtUnited States Supreme Court
Citation78 S.Ct. 199,355 U.S. 220,2 L.Ed.2d 223
Decision Date16 December 1957
PartiesLulu B. McGEE, Petitioner, v. INTERNATIONAL LIFE INSURANCE COMPANY
Docket NumberNo. 50

355 U.S. 220
78 S.Ct. 199
2 L.Ed.2d 223
Lulu B. McGEE, Petitioner,

v.

INTERNATIONAL LIFE INSURANCE COMPANY.

No. 50.
Argued Nov. 20, 1957.
Decided Dec. 16, 1957.

Mr. Arthur J. Mandell, Houston, Tex., for the petitioner.

Mr. Stanley Hornsby, Austin, for the respondent.

Page 221

Opinion of the Court by Mr. Justice BLACK, announced by Mr. Justice DOUGLAS.

Petitioner, Lulu B. McGee, recovered a judgment in a California state court against respondent, International Life Insurance Company, on a contract of insurance. Respondent was not served with process in California but by registered mail at its principal place of business in Texas. The California court based its jurisdiction on a state statute which subjects foreign corporations to suit in California on insurance contracts with residents of that State even though such corporations cannot be served with process within its borders.1

Unable to collect the judgment in California petitioner went to Texas where she filed suit on the judgment in a Texas court. But the Texas courts refused to enforce her judgment holding it was void under the Fourteenth Amendment because service of process outside California could not give the courts of that State jurisdiction over respondent. 288 S.W.2d 579. Since the case raised important questions, not only to California but to other States which have similar laws, we granted certiorari. 352 U.S. 924, 77 S.Ct. 239, 1 L.Ed.2d 160. It is not controverted that if the California court properly exercised jurisdiction over respondent the Texas courts erred in refusing to give its judgment full faith and credit. 28 U.S.C. § 1738, 28 U.S.C.A. § 1738.

The material facts are relatively simple. In 1944, Lowell Franklin, a resident of California, purchased a life insurance policy from the Empire Mutual Insurance Company, an Arizona corporation. In 1948 the respondent agreed with Empire Mutual to assume its insurance obligations. Respondent then mailed a reinsurance certificate to Franklin in California offering to insure him in accordance with the terms of the policy he held with Empire Mutual. He accepted this offer and from that

Page 222

time until his death in 1950 paid premiums by mail from his California home to respondent's Texas office. Petitioner Franklin's mother, was the beneficiary under the policy. She sent proofs of his death to the respondent but it refused to pay claiming that he had committed suicide. It appears that neither Empire Mutual nor respondent has ever had any office or agent in California. And so far as the record before us shows, respondent has never solicited or done any insurance business in California apart from the policy involved here.

Since Pennoyer v. Neff, 95 U.S. 714, 24 L.Ed. 565, this Court has held that the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment places some limit on the power of state courts to enter binding judgments against persons not served with process within their boundaries. But just where this line of limitation falls has been the subject of prolific controversy, particularly with respect to foreign corporations. In a continuing process of evolution this Court accepted and then abandoned 'consent,' 'doing business,' and 'presence' as the standard for measuring the extent of state judicial power over such corporations. See Henderson, The Position of Foreign Corporations in American Constitutional Law, c. V. More recently in International Shoe Co. v. State of Washington, 326 U.S. 310, 66 S.Ct. 154, 90 L.Ed. 95, the Court decided that 'due process requires only that in order to subject a defendant to a judgment in personam, if he be not present...

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3254 practice notes
  • Villalobos v. North Carolina Growers Ass'n, No. CIV. 97-1589(JAF).
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — District of Puerto Rico
    • February 17, 1999
    ...F.2d at 1089. We begin by noting that a single contact can suffice, so long as it is substantial. McGee v. International Life Ins. Co., 355 U.S. 220, 223, 78 S.Ct. 199, 2 L.Ed.2d 223 (1957) ("It is sufficient for purposes of due process that the suit was based on a contract which had substa......
  • Mmk Group, LLC v. Sheshells Co., LLC, Case No. 3:07 CV 55.
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Northern District of Ohio
    • December 24, 2008
    ...L.Ed.2d 404 (1984)). Specific jurisdiction may be based on a single act. Nationwide, 91 F.3d at 794 (citing McGee v. Int'l Life Ins. Co., 355 U.S. 220, 222, 78 S.Ct. 199, 2 L.Ed.2d 223 a. General Jurisdiction First, the Court considers whether it may exercise general jurisdiction over Bruce......
  • Res. Assocs. Grant Writing & Evaluation Servs., Inc. v. Southampton Union Free Sch. Dist., No. CIV 15-1132 JB/SCY
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 10th Circuit. District of New Mexico
    • June 15, 2016
    ...Court's jurisprudence on personal jurisdiction based on contractual relationships is McGee v. International Life Insurance Company, 355 U.S. 220, 78 S.Ct. 199, 2 L.Ed.2d 223 (1957). There, Lowell Franklin, a California resident, purchased a life insurance policy from the Empire Mutual Insur......
  • General Cigar Holdings, Inc. v. Altadis, S.A., No. 00-4187CIV.
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Southern District of Florida
    • June 12, 2002
    ...of personal jurisdiction limits upon whom a court may impose a binding and enforceable judgment. McGee v. Int'l Life Insurance Company, 355 U.S. 220, 222, 78 S.Ct. 199, 2 L.Ed.2d 223 (1957). To invoke a court's in personam jurisdiction, a plaintiff must make a prima facie case by presenting......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
3250 cases
  • Villalobos v. North Carolina Growers Ass'n, No. CIV. 97-1589(JAF).
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — District of Puerto Rico
    • February 17, 1999
    ...F.2d at 1089. We begin by noting that a single contact can suffice, so long as it is substantial. McGee v. International Life Ins. Co., 355 U.S. 220, 223, 78 S.Ct. 199, 2 L.Ed.2d 223 (1957) ("It is sufficient for purposes of due process that the suit was based on a contract which had substa......
  • Mmk Group, LLC v. Sheshells Co., LLC, Case No. 3:07 CV 55.
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Northern District of Ohio
    • December 24, 2008
    ...L.Ed.2d 404 (1984)). Specific jurisdiction may be based on a single act. Nationwide, 91 F.3d at 794 (citing McGee v. Int'l Life Ins. Co., 355 U.S. 220, 222, 78 S.Ct. 199, 2 L.Ed.2d 223 a. General Jurisdiction First, the Court considers whether it may exercise general jurisdiction over Bruce......
  • Res. Assocs. Grant Writing & Evaluation Servs., Inc. v. Southampton Union Free Sch. Dist., No. CIV 15-1132 JB/SCY
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 10th Circuit. District of New Mexico
    • June 15, 2016
    ...Court's jurisprudence on personal jurisdiction based on contractual relationships is McGee v. International Life Insurance Company, 355 U.S. 220, 78 S.Ct. 199, 2 L.Ed.2d 223 (1957). There, Lowell Franklin, a California resident, purchased a life insurance policy from the Empire Mutual Insur......
  • General Cigar Holdings, Inc. v. Altadis, S.A., No. 00-4187CIV.
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Southern District of Florida
    • June 12, 2002
    ...of personal jurisdiction limits upon whom a court may impose a binding and enforceable judgment. McGee v. Int'l Life Insurance Company, 355 U.S. 220, 222, 78 S.Ct. 199, 2 L.Ed.2d 223 (1957). To invoke a court's in personam jurisdiction, a plaintiff must make a prima facie case by presenting......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
4 books & journal articles
  • FORD'S UNDERLYING CONTROVERSY.
    • United States
    • Washington University Law Review Vol. 99 Nbr. 4, April 2022
    • April 1, 2022
    ...(1988). (65.) See, e.g., Walden v. Fiore, 571 U.S. 277, 284 (2014); Goodyear, 564 U.S. at 919 (2011). (66.) McGee v. Int'l Life Ins. Co., 355 U.S. 220, 222 (1957); see also Kulko v. Super. Ct., 436 U.S. 84, 101 (1978) (discussing the evolving, flexible standard of International (67.) See, e......
  • FORD MOTOR CO. V. MONTANA EIGHTH JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT AND 'CORPORATE TAG JURISDICTION' IN THE PENNOYER ERA.
    • United States
    • Case Western Reserve Law Review Vol. 72 Nbr. 1, September 2021
    • September 22, 2021
    ...and the forum state was that the Texas life insurer had sold a single life insurance policy there. See McGee v. Int'l Life Ins. Co., 355 U.S. 220 (1957). For a discussion of the contrast between specific and general jurisdiction, see supra note 15. The McGee claim was to collect on the Cali......
  • Time for a New Shoe? Making Sense of Specific Jurisdiction: Ford Motor Co. v. Montana Eighth Judicial District Court.
    • United States
    • Missouri Law Review Vol. 87 Nbr. 2, March 2022
    • March 22, 2022
    ...(1945). (53) Id. at 313. (54) Id. at 319. (55) Id. at 316. (56) Id. at 319. (57) Id. at 320. (58) Id. (59) McGee v. Int'l Life Ins. Co., 355 U.S. 220, 222 (60) Id. (61) Id. at 222-23. (62) Id. at 223-24. (63) Id. at 223. (64) Id. at 244. (65) See Hanson v. Denckla, 357 U.S. 235 (1958). (66)......
  • FORD V. WHERE ARE WE?: THE REVIVAL OF THE SLIDING SCALE TO GOVERN THE SUPREME COURT'S NEW 'RELATING TO' PERSONAL JURISDICTION.
    • United States
    • William and Mary Law Review Vol. 64 Nbr. 1, October 2022
    • October 1, 2022
    ...of Cal, 480 U.S. 102 (1987), World-Wide Volkswagen Corp. v. Woodson, AAA U.S. 286 (1980), and McGee v. International Life Insurance Co., 355 U.S. 220 (1957). For a list of these factors and an explanation of how they will interact with the sliding scale in the context of this Note's propose......

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