A state has no power to provide that nonresident individuals, in
suits growing out of their business transacted within the state
through a local agent, shall be bound by process served upon him
after the agency is at an end, and a judgment against a firm of
nonresidents, based upon such service, is void. P. 248 U. S.
The power to make such provision as against foreign corporations
springs from the power to exclude such corporations from local
business whence, by fiction, the continued agency to receive
service is attributed to the corporation's implied consent; but
there is no room for implying consent in the case of nonresident
natural persons, since the power to exclude from local business
does not exist as to them. Id.
268 Ill., 435 affirmed.
The case is stated in the opinion.
Page 248 U. S. 292
MR. JUSTICE HOLMES delivered the opinion of the Court.
This is an action brought by the plaintiff in error upon a
judgment for money rendered by a Kentucky court. The declaration
alleges that the transaction in respect of which the judgment was
rendered took place at Louisville, Kentucky, and that, at that
time, the defendants were doing business there as partners through
Washington Flexner, who was and continued to be their agent until
the time of this suit. It further alleges that the defendants were
nonresidents, and that the service of summons of the Kentucky suit
was made upon Washington Flexner in accordance with a Kentucky
statute authorizing it to be made in that way. The defendant
William Farson was the only one served with process in the present
action, and he pleaded that the defendants in the former suit did
not reside in Kentucky, were not served with process, and did not
appear; that Washington Flexner was not their agent at the time of
service upon him; that the Kentucky statute relied upon was
unconstitutional; that the Kentucky court had no jurisdiction, and
that its judgment was void under the Constitution of the United
States. The plaintiff demurred to the pleas, and stood upon his
demurrer when it was overruled, whereupon judgment was entered for
the defendants. There was an appeal to the supreme court of the
state on the ground that the court below did not give full faith
and credit to the Kentucky judgment and erred in holding the
Kentucky statute as to service unconstitutional. The supreme court
affirmed the judgment
Page 248 U. S. 293
below. 268 Ill. 435. The same errors are alleged here.
It is argued that the pleas tacitly admit that Washington
Flexner was agent of the firms at the time of the transaction sued
upon in Kentucky, and the Kentucky statute is construed as
purporting to make him agent to receive service in suits arising
out of the business done in that state. On this construction it is
said that the defendants, by doing business in the state, consented
to be bound by the service prescribed. The analogy of suits against
insurance companies based upon such service is invoked. Mutual
Reserve Fund Life Association v. Phelps, 190 U.
. But the consent that is said to be implied in
such cases is a mere fiction, founded upon the accepted doctrine
that the states could exclude foreign corporations altogether, and
therefore could establish this obligation as a condition to letting
them in. Lafayette Ins. Co. v.
18 How. 404; Pennsylvania Fire Ins. Co.
v. Gold Issue Mining & Milling Co., 243 U. S.
, 243 U. S. 96
The state had no power to exclude the defendants, and on that
ground, without going farther, the Supreme Court of Illinois
rightly held that the analogy failed, and that the Kentucky
judgment was void. If the Kentucky statute purports to have the
effect attributed to it, it cannot have that effect in the present
case. New York Life Ins. Co. v. Dunlevy, 241 U.
, 241 U. S.