St. Clair v. Cox
106 U.S. 350 (1882)

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U.S. Supreme Court

St. Clair v. Cox, 106 U.S. 350 (1882)

St. Clair v. Cox

Decided December 18, 1882

106 U.S. 350

Syllabus

1. The courts of the United States do not regard as valid or as importing verity a judgment in personam rendered by a state court for the recovery of a debt or demand unless the defendant either entered a voluntary appearance, or he or someone authorized to receive process for him was personally cited to appear. Pennoyer v. Neff,95 U. S. 714, cited and approved, and the doctrines announced in that case declared to be applicable to personal judgments against corporations.

2. Michigan permits foreign corporations to transact business within her limits, and when a suit by attachment is brought against one of them by a resident of the state, she authorizes the service of a copy of the writ, with a copy of the inventory of the property attached, on "any officer, member, clerk, or agent of such corporation" within the state, and declares that a personal service of a copy of the writ and of the inventory on one of these persons, shall have the force and effect of personal service of a summons on a defendant in suits commenced by summons. A., a resident, sued out of the circuit court of a county an attachment against a foreign corporation, and the officer to whom the writ was directed returned that by virtue of it he had seized and attached certain property, and served a copy of the writ, with a copy of the inventory of the attached property, on the defendant by delivering the same personally in said county, to B., agent of the said defendant. No appearance was entered by the corporation, and A. recovered a judgment in personam for the amount of his demand. The record of it was in another suit offered in evidence to support a plea of setoff, and an objection was made to its admissibility that the court which rendered the judgment had not jurisdiction of the parties.

Held:

1. That the record was properly excluded, it not appearing therefrom that the corporation was doing business in the state at the time of the service of the writ on B.

2. Had that fact appeared, the corporation might have shown that his relations to it did not justify such service.

The facts are stated in the opinion of the Court.

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