Ex Parte Schollenberger
96 U.S. 369 (1877)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Ex Parte Schollenberger, 96 U.S. 369 (1877)

Ex Parte Schollenberger

96 U.S. 369

Syllabus

A foreign insurance company was doing business in Pennsylvania under a license granted pursuant to a statute, which, among other things, provided that the company should file a written stipulation, agreeing that process issued in any suit brought in any court of that Commonwealth having jurisdiction of the subject matter, and served upon the agent specified by the company to receive service of process for it, should have the same effect as if personally served upon the company within the state. Suit was brought in the Circuit Court of the United States for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania by a citizen of that state against the company, and process served, in accordance with the state law, upon its agent so specified, who resided within the district. The service of the process was quashed, because the company was not an inhabitant of or found within the district.

Held:

1. That the circuit court has jurisdiction of the suit, and should proceed to hear and determine it.

2. That said court is a court of the commonwealth within the intent of the statute.

Page 96 U. S. 370

Schollenberger, a citizen of Pennsylvania, brought sundry suits in said circuit court against certain foreign insurance companies upon policies which they had severally issued upon his property situate in that state and within the jurisdiction of the court.

Each company, before the issue of its policy, had accepted the provisions of the statute of the state, and, in compliance therewith, appointed its agent residing there, on whom process of law against it could be served. So much of the statute as bears on the question here involved is set out in the opinion of this Court.

The service of the writs, which were sued out by Schollenberger and executed, in accordance with the state law, on the agents of the several companies by them respectively specified for the purpose and residing within the jurisdiction of the court, was quashed by the circuit court. On his petition, setting forth the foregoing facts, a rule was awarded upon the judges of that court to show cause why a writ of mandamus should not be issued out of the office of this court commanding them to hear and determine the suits so brought in the said circuit court and also to strike from the record certain orders dated the thirteenth day of April, 1878, whereby the service of the said writs was quashed, and thereupon to make such disposition of the suits as ought to have been made had the said orders not been entered.

The judges in their return answered that the facts were truly stated in the petition, that the respondents declined to hear and determine the said suits because, in their opinion, the said circuit court had no competent jurisdiction thereof, the defendants not having appeared therein or in any wise submitted to the jurisdiction of the court, and not having been at the commencement of the respective suits or at any time inhabitants of or found in the said district within the meaning of the Act of Congress of March 3, 1875, reenacting a like provision of the eleventh section of the Act of Sept. 24, 1789; that the question under this enactment being one of jurisdiction,

Page 96 U. S. 371

and not of mere procedure, the statute of Pennsylvania mentioned in the said petition was, in the opinion of the respondents, inapplicable. The service of the process in the said suits was therefore set aside as unauthorized.

Page 96 U. S. 374

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