McCoy v. Siler, No. 10952.

CourtUnited States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (3rd Circuit)
Writing for the CourtBIGGS, , and MARIS and GOODRICH, Circuit
Citation205 F.2d 498
Docket NumberNo. 10952.
Decision Date10 June 1953
PartiesMcCOY v. SILER et al.

205 F.2d 498 (1953)

McCOY
v.
SILER et al.

No. 10952.

United States Court of Appeals Third Circuit.

Argued March 20, 1953.

Decided June 10, 1953.


Alan Kahn, Philadelphia, Pa. (Ernest R. White and Richter, Lord & Farage, Philadelphia, Pa., on the brief), for appellant.

Peter P. Liebert, III, Philadelphia, Pa. (John J. McDevitt, 3rd, Philadelphia, Pa., on the brief), for appellee.

Before BIGGS, Chief Judge, and MARIS and GOODRICH, Circuit Judges.

GOODRICH, Circuit Judge.

This case concerns the Pennsylvania nonresident motorist statute and the United States statutes on venue. The plaintiff, an Iowa resident, sued the defendants, residents of North Carolina, for damages resulting from a motor vehicle accident which occurred in Pennsylvania. Service was made following the provisions of the Pennsylvania nonresident motorist statute.1 The defendant raises the point that venue is lacking since the federal statute provides that: "A civil action wherein jurisdiction is founded only on diversity of citizenship may, except as otherwise provided by law, be brought only in the judicial district where all plaintiffs or all defendants reside."2

205 F.2d 499

A state cannot by legislation modify or repeal a Congressional statute on the venue of federal courts.3 On the other hand it is very clear that the venue provision may be waived. The question in this case is whether the defendants' privilege to be sued where either the plaintiff or they reside has been waived by anything they have done. Waiver, it is well established, can be by conduct as well as by expressed consent.4

In Neirbo Co. v. Bethlehem Shipbuilding Corp., Ltd., 1939, 308 U.S. 165, 60 S.Ct. 153, 84 L.Ed. 167, it was held that a corporation waived the venue provisions by designating a state officer to receive service of process. From that it is argued that a motorist waives his venue privilege when he drives on the highways of a state whose law provides for service upon a designated public officer in a suit against a nonresident who has the misfortune to have an automobile accident within the state. Since these statues are frequently phrased in terms of an appointment of the public officer to accept service of process, it is argued that a consent to service in that fashion, and to the jurisdiction of the state's courts, is implied.

As to the use of the fiction of consent to establish jurisdiction of a state for suit under these nonresident motorist statutes we can add little to the discussion by the First Circuit in Martin v. Fischbach Trucking Co., 1 Cir., 1950, 183 F.2d 53. The fiction of consent did well enough to provide the foundation for a step in expanding the jurisdiction which a state may exercise through its courts. But it is now perfectly clear that the jurisdiction rests on power and not consent at all; this is recognized by practically every thoughtful writer on the subject.5

When it comes to the question of venue presented by this case quite a number of District Courts and one Court of Appeals have thought that the Neirbo case provided the analogy for the finding of waiver

205 F.2d 500
of venue here.6 Others have thought the contrary.7

We insist, however, that there is a real distinction between the cases where a party in fact gives consent to suit by appointing an officer of the state to receive process and a case where the party is drawn into court willy-nilly without any manifestation of consent on his part. It was many years ago held that if a corporation in fact designated such officer, that was consent, and the scope of the consent was a matter for the state's determination even though it could not force a corporation against its will into court except for the outcome of things done locally.8 We think that when a motorist comes into a state and has an accident and is brought into court to defend himself from the consequence of that accident he does not consent to anything. He is in the state's court because the state has power to bring him there following his use of the state's highways. It seems to us unreal to say that he has "waived" the provision of a federal statute which gives him the privilege of being sued in certain places only. It seems to us a fictitious and illogical jump to reach such a conclusion.

We were pressed with the analogy of Knott Corp. v. Furman, 4 Cir., 1947, 163 F.2d 199, certiorari denied 1947, 332 U.S. 809, 68 S.Ct. 111, 92 L.Ed. 387. That case decided that the jurisdiction exercised by a state over a foreign corporation doing business within its boundaries is based on an implied consent indistinguishable from the express consent involved in the Neirbo case. Consequently the corporation waives its federal venue privilege by doing business in the state. In our opinion that case overlooked the clear distinction, drawn by the Supreme Court itself in the Neirbo opinion, between true and fictitious consent.9 It is that very distinction which led this court to a contrary result on the precise issue involved in the Knott case. Robinson v. Coos Bay Pulp Corp., 3 Cir., 1945, 147 F.2d 512. Two other Courts of Appeals have agreed with us.10 Insofar as the issue involved in those cases is analogous here, the weight of authority supports our conclusion.

The settlement of the question here involved is not one which, either way, will shake the foundations of American jurisprudence. Nor should it arouse violent emotions among those differing in opinion upon it. There is no hardship on the plaintiff if he cannot get into federal court in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. The state court is open to him. There is no hardship on the defendant if we should decide that the venue provisions have been waived. He is subject to suit in state court anyway, and we take it that it is no harder to defend in one court than the other. Nor can we see any social issue involved.

205 F.2d 501
The only policy consideration which is apparent is that we should not be astute to widen federal diversity jurisdiction. However, we think the logic of the matter is in accordance with the First Circuit case and we shall follow it. The dissent of our brethern of the Sixth Circuit does not seem to us convincing

The judgment of the District Court will be affirmed.

MARIS, Circuit Judge (concurring).

I join fully in everything which is said in the opinion of the court. I desire to add a few words, however, since I think that the action of the district court may be sustained on the additional ground that the court never acquired jurisdiction of the persons of the defendants. Merely carrying out in this case the ritual of serving process upon the state's own officer, the Secretary of the Commonwealth,11 was not sufficient validly to summon the nonresident defendants into court. This was settled in Wuchter v. Pizzutti, 1928, 276 U.S. 13, 48 S.Ct. 259, 72 L.Ed. 446. In that case the Supreme Court held that in order to afford a nonresident motorist procedural due process of law it is necessary to provide for giving reasonable notice of suit to the nonresident himself. Pennsylvania Civil Procedure Rule 2079(a)12 provides for such notice to be given by registered mail. It thus appears that it was by such extraterritorial service, if at all, that the district court acquired jurisdiction of the persons of the nonresident defendants.13 But this service, being extraterritorial, could not be effective to do so in the present case. For extraterritorial service in the federal courts is regulated by Federal Civil Procedure rule 4(f), 28 U.S.C.14 That rule restricts the service of process to the territorial limits of the state in which the district court is held unless a statute of the United States authorizes service beyond those limits. In this respect the rule is a limitation upon the provisions of Federal Civil Procedure rule 4(d) (7) which authorize service in the manner prescribed by state law. Since there is no federal statute authorizing extraterritorial service in a diversity case such as this one, rule 4(f) operated to prohibit service upon the defendants in North Carolina by registered mail in the manner provided by Pennsylvania Civil Procedure rule 2079(a). The district court, therefore, did not, in my opinion, acquire jurisdiction of the person of the defendants.

It may be thought that the conclusion which the court has reached in the present case is inconsistent with the doctrine of Erie R. Co. v. Tompkins, 1938, 304 U.S.

205 F.2d 502
64, 58 S.Ct. 817, 82 L.Ed. 1188. It is true that there is here diversity of citizenship and jurisdictional amount and that the case might have been brought in the Pennsylvania state courts. It is also true that the sweep of Erie R. Co. v. Tompkins takes in not only the field of what has been conventionally regarded as substantive law, but also calls for the application in federal diversity cases of many state laws which for other purposes are regarded as procedural.15 But the application of the Rules of Decision Act under the doctrine of Erie R. Co. v. Tompkins necessarily stops at the point where in the procedural field an Act of Congress or a rule of procedure promulgated by the Supreme Court pursuant to Congressional authority prescribes a uniform rule for the federal courts to follow. That is the situation here. True, the plaintiff could have brought suit in the state court and the defendant could have removed the suit to the federal district court. For Section 1441(a) of Title 28, U.S.C., would give the district court venue jurisdiction,16 and Pennsylvania Civil Procedure Rule 2079(a) rather than Federal Civil Procedure Rule 4 would be applicable to the service of process.17 But here Section 1391 of Title 28, U.S.C., and Federal Civil Procedure Rule 4(f) prescribe the procedure in these matters and there is, therefore, no area for the application of state law under the Rules of Decision Act

BIGGS, Chief Judge (dissenting).

Every one of the forty-eight states and the District of Columbia has a...

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46 practice notes
  • Miller v. Davis, Nos. 73-2009
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (6th Circuit)
    • November 26, 1974
    ...State law does not control the venue of federal courts. Steel Motor Service v. Zalke, 212 F.2d 856, 858 (6th Cir. 1954); McCoy v. Siler, 205 F.2d 498 (3rd Cir.), cert. denied, 346 U.S. 872, 74 S.Ct. 120, 98 L.Ed. 380 (1953). See 1 J. Moore, Federal Practice 1322 Just as the state policies a......
  • Lang v. Windsor Mount Joy Mut. Ins. Co., Civ. A. No. 80-0983.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 3th Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of Pennsylvania)
    • April 21, 1980
    ...98 S.Ct. 2396, 57 L.Ed.2d 274 (1978), America Fire & Casualty Co. v. Finn, 341 U.S. 6, 71 S.Ct. 534, 95 L.Ed. 702 (1951), McCoy v. Siler, 205 F.2d 498 (3d Cir.), cert. denied, 346 U.S. 872, 74 S.Ct. 120, 98 L.Ed. 380 18 Kramer v. Caribbean Mills, Inc., 394 U.S. 823, 89 S.Ct. 1487, 23 L.Ed.2......
  • Fawvor v. Texaco, Inc., No. 75-2596
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (5th Circuit)
    • February 4, 1977
    ...U.S.C. § 1332) require its strict construction, see Thomson v. Gaskill,315 U.S. 442, 62 S.Ct. 673, 86 L.Ed. 951 (1942); McCoy v. Siler, 205 F.2d 498 (3rd Cir. 1953), but Rule 82, Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, states that "(t) hese rules shall not be construed to extend or limit the juri......
  • Park Inn Intern., L.L.C. v. Mody Enterprises, Inc., No. Civ.A. 99-4415.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 3th Circuit. United States District Courts. 3th Circuit. District of New Jersey
    • June 28, 2000
    ...if no other venue is proper. Like personal jurisdiction, an objection to venue may be waived. See 28 U.S.C. § 1406; McCoy v. Siler, 205 F.2d 498, 499 (3d Cir.), cert. denied, 346 U.S. 872, 74 S.Ct. 120, 98 L.Ed. 380 (1953). Where a defendant has waived its objection to venue, the Court may ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
46 cases
  • Miller v. Davis, Nos. 73-2009
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (6th Circuit)
    • November 26, 1974
    ...State law does not control the venue of federal courts. Steel Motor Service v. Zalke, 212 F.2d 856, 858 (6th Cir. 1954); McCoy v. Siler, 205 F.2d 498 (3rd Cir.), cert. denied, 346 U.S. 872, 74 S.Ct. 120, 98 L.Ed. 380 (1953). See 1 J. Moore, Federal Practice 1322 Just as the state policies a......
  • Lang v. Windsor Mount Joy Mut. Ins. Co., Civ. A. No. 80-0983.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 3th Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of Pennsylvania)
    • April 21, 1980
    ...98 S.Ct. 2396, 57 L.Ed.2d 274 (1978), America Fire & Casualty Co. v. Finn, 341 U.S. 6, 71 S.Ct. 534, 95 L.Ed. 702 (1951), McCoy v. Siler, 205 F.2d 498 (3d Cir.), cert. denied, 346 U.S. 872, 74 S.Ct. 120, 98 L.Ed. 380 18 Kramer v. Caribbean Mills, Inc., 394 U.S. 823, 89 S.Ct. 1487, 23 L.Ed.2......
  • Fawvor v. Texaco, Inc., No. 75-2596
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (5th Circuit)
    • February 4, 1977
    ...U.S.C. § 1332) require its strict construction, see Thomson v. Gaskill,315 U.S. 442, 62 S.Ct. 673, 86 L.Ed. 951 (1942); McCoy v. Siler, 205 F.2d 498 (3rd Cir. 1953), but Rule 82, Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, states that "(t) hese rules shall not be construed to extend or limit the juri......
  • Park Inn Intern., L.L.C. v. Mody Enterprises, Inc., No. Civ.A. 99-4415.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 3th Circuit. United States District Courts. 3th Circuit. District of New Jersey
    • June 28, 2000
    ...if no other venue is proper. Like personal jurisdiction, an objection to venue may be waived. See 28 U.S.C. § 1406; McCoy v. Siler, 205 F.2d 498, 499 (3d Cir.), cert. denied, 346 U.S. 872, 74 S.Ct. 120, 98 L.Ed. 380 (1953). Where a defendant has waived its objection to venue, the Court may ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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