Saturday, December 28, 2013

McGee v. International Life Insurance Co. case brief

McGee v. International Life Insurance Co. case brief summary
355 U.S. 220 (1957)

Petitioner life insurance beneficiary appealed from a judgment of the Court of Civil Appeals of Texas, First Supreme Judicial District, which refused to enforce the beneficiary's California state court judgment against respondent insurance company on a contract of insurance.

The beneficiary obtained a judgment against the insurer in a California state court and attempted to enforce it through an action in the Texas state courts. The Texas courts refused to enforce the California judgment, holding that the judgment was void under the Fourteenth Amendment because service of process outside California could not give the courts of California jurisdiction over the insurer.


  • On appeal, the Court found that the Due Process Clause did not preclude the California court from entering a judgment that was binding on the insurer. 
  • The Court found it sufficient for purposes of due process that the suit was based on a contract that had substantial connection with California. 
  • The contract was delivered in California, the premiums were mailed from there, and the insured was a resident of California when he died. 
  • There was no contention that the insurer did not have adequate notice of the suit or sufficient time to prepare its defenses and appear. 
  • The Court determined that the insurer had no vested right not to be sued in California and concluded that due process was satisfied because the insurer had certain minimum contacts with the State of California.
The Court reversed the judgment and remanded the cause to the Texas appellate court for further proceedings not inconsistent with the Court's opinion.

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