Citation. 274 U.S. 352 (1927)
Brief Fact Summary.
Plaintiff sued Defendant after a car accident, and Defendant moved to dismiss the case for lack of personal jurisdiction because of improper service of process.
Synopsis of Rule of Law.
Consistent with the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, personal jurisdiction over a nonresident requires service of process personally upon the nonresident or their agent.
Leo Pawloski (Plaintiff), a Massachusetts resident, sued H.R. Hess (Defendant), a Pennsylvania resident, in Massachusetts after Defendant hit Plaintiff with his car in Massachusetts. Plaintiff served Defendant under the Massachusetts Nonresident Motorist statute, which allowed the Massachusetts registrar of motor vehicles to be served on behalf of the Defendant and mail the service of process to Defendant in Pennsylvania. Defendant moved to dismiss the case for lack of personal jurisdiction because service of process did not comply with the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.
Did the Massachusetts Nonresident Motorist statute allow for proper service of process of the Defendant, in compliance with the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment?
Yes, Defendant was properly served and personal jurisdiction was established. The lower court’s decision was affirmed.
The Court determined that the Massachusetts Nonresident Motorist statute did not violate the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The statute, in support of the state’s public interest in regulating its highways, properly allowed the registrar of the state to act as an authorized agent of defendants receiving service of process.