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Adjudicative Power: Personal Jurisdiction

International Shoe Co. v. State of Washington
Supreme Court of the United States, 1945.
326 U.S. 310, 66 S.Ct. 154, 90 L.Ed. 95.

MR. CHIEF JUSTICE STONE delivered the opinion of the Court.
[Under Washington law, employers were required to make contributions to the state’s unemployment compensation program based on a percentage of the annual wages paid for their employees’ services within the state. The statute also authorized the plaintiff state agency to collect delinquent contributions by personal service upon the employer if found within the state, or, if not, by registered mail to its last known address. The agency personally served a notice of assessment upon a salesperson employed by the defendant within Washington and also sent a copy by registered mail to the defendant’s address in St. Louis, Missouri. The statute also provided for a series of administrative appeals from the initial agency decision followed by further appeal of issues of law to the Washington state courts.]

Appellant appeared specially before the office of unemployment and moved to set aside the order and notice of assessment on the ground that the service upon appellant’s salesman was not proper service upon appellant; that appellant was not a corporation of the State of Washington and was not doing business within the state; that it had no agent within the state upon whom service could be made; and that appellant is not an employer and does not furnish employment within the meaning of the statute.

The motion was heard * * * by the appeal tribunal which denied the motion and ruled that respondent Commissioner was entitled to recover the unpaid contributions. That action was affirmed by the Commissioner; both the [state] Superior Court and the Supreme Court affirmed. Appellant in each of these courts assailed the statute as applied, as a violation of the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment * * *. The cause comes here on appeal * * *.

The facts * * * are not in dispute. Appellant is a Delaware corporation, having its principal place of business in St. Louis, Missouri, and is engaged in the manufacture and sale of shoes and other footwear. It maintains places of business in several states, other than Washington, at which its manufacturing is carried on and from which its merchandise is distributed interstate through several sales units or branches located outside the State of Washington.

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