Saturday, May 17, 2014

Pennoyer v. Neff case brief summary

Pennoyer v. Neff- Old basis for Personal Jurisdiction
1)      In Personam-
a.       (D) is state resident
b.      May serve a non state resident in state
c.       May Consent to Service
d.      In some cases an agent of the D may be served
2)      In Rem- The property is subject of the litigation
a.       When (D) owns property within the state
b.      Property must be attached before the case
c.       Must give the owner constructive notice
3)      Quasi In Rem- The property is not the subject of the litigation
a.       Same procedure as regular In Rem
4)      Service by publication is no good – (church news letter) – Service directly to person or agent within the state.
5)      Full faith in Credit Clause
a.       States must recognize the judicial decisions, licenses and other decisions made by other states provided they comply with Due Process of the Constitution
6)      Due Process Clause-
a.       States exercise of Personal Jurisdiction is strictly regulated by the constitution
7)      Collateral Attack-
a.       If you believe that another state may be having proceedings without personal jurisdiction, you may not respond to the complaint, giving the (P) a default judgment. When the foreign state petitions your state to execute (writ of execution) the judgment you may collaterally attack the judgment.
                                                                          i.      You better be SURE that they did not have jurisdiction.
b.      (Other responses to a judgment without jurisdiction)
                                                                          i.      Special Appearance
                                                                        ii.      Register a challenge in a pre-answer motion or answer to the complaint. 12h & 12b- must be done in a timely fashion to preserve your objection. (See pg. 70-74) challenge and waiver.
12 b 2-5 will be waived if they do not appear in either a responsive pleading, motion or an amendment or are not in consolidated motions.
12 b 6 & 7 can be made either in trial or during pleadings
12 b 1 can be made any time.


  1. Pennoyer v Neff (1877) – Traditional RULE
    1. Neff had an unpaid legal bill. Sued by Mitchell and Neff failed to show up so Mitchell won by default. Court sells Neff’s land to Pennoyer to pay debt. Neff sued.
    2. Ct said based on the 14th amendment, original sale of land was invalid because Oregon did not have in personam jurisdiction over Neff (violates Due Process). Relies on two premises
    a. CT can always exercise PJ on ppl/things within their borders (still true)
    b. Ct can only exercise PJ over ppl/things within their borders (no longer true)
    3. Why important?
    a. Reminds us of validity of full faith and credit clause
    b. PJ has a constitutional component; attaches PJ to due process
    c. Satisfy due process in different ways:
    i. Presence in state (In Personam) – PJ
    ii. Own property in state(In Rem) - PJ

  2. Pennoyer v. Neff (1877) – in personam

    · FACTS: Defendant Neff was being sued by lawyer Mitchell in Oregon for unpaid legal fees. A default judgment was entered against Defendant for his failure to come to court or otherwise resist the lawsuit, despite the fact that he was not personally served with process, nor was a resident of Oregon.

    o After the default judgment, Defendant acquired 300 acres of land in Oregon. Later, in an attempt to collect upon his judgment, Mitchell attached land located in Oregon belonging to Defendant, and had it sold to Plaintiff Pennoyer through a Sheriff’s sale (writ of execution).

    · LEGAL ISSUE/QUESTION: Did first suit null Neff’s title of the land that was acquired after judgment was made?

    o The force and effect of judgments rendered against non-residents without personal service of process upon them or their voluntary appearance.

    · Holding: The personal judgment recovered in the state court of Oregon against Plaintiff was without validity, and the decision of the Court of Appeals overturning that judgment was affirmed.

    o When a suit is merely in personam (i.e. against a person), constructive service through publication upon a non-resident is ineffective.

  3. Pennoyer v. Neff introduced in personam jurisdiction
    § Separated power over the person (in personam) and power over the property (in rem) and power over the person by leveraging the property (quasi in rem)
    § Under the Pennoyer standard personal jurisdiction could not be asserted unless that person was physically in the state
    § Territorial / Sovereign Theory
    ú State’s power extends only to that state’s borders
    § Full Faith and Credit clause
    ú Article V section 1 of the constitution
    ú A court in one state has to respect and enforce a judgment made by a court of another state
    § Due Process Theory
    ú Emanates from the 14th and 5th Amendments
    ú The government if depriving you of life, liberty, etc.. there must be due process
    ú Court limits are mainly about fairness… is it really fair of you to have to travel thousands of miles to a state you have no contact in order to defend a law suit? (no)

  4. Pennoyer v Neff attaches idea of fairness and reasonableness from 14th amendment into the picture of personal jurisdiction:

    § Neff didn’t pay his legal fees. Attorney sued, won by directed verdict because Neff didn’t show up. He acquired writ of execution authorizing sheriff to seize property and sell it. Pennoyer buys the property. Neff sues Pennoyer saying for right to his ladn saying that first court didn’t have legitimate personal jurisdiction and therefore the land attachment was invalid. Court agrees: no personal jurisdiction (was served through publication of process where he couldn’t have reasonably been notified…)

    § First court to say that personal jurisdiction is attached to 14th amendment.

    § “Quality and Nature of contacts”:

    o The purpose for asking whether the defendant has taken advantage of the benefits and protections of the state’s laws is to evaluate the defendant’s contacts with the state, to ascertain whether they are of the “quality and nature” to support jurisdiction. If the defendant’s in state acts demonstrate a deliberate effort to take advantage of the benefits and protections of the forum state’s laws, it is a fair inference that these acts satisfy the minimum contacts test, since minimum contacts jurisdiction is based on the defendant’s deliberate decision to act in the forum state for her own purposes.


The Ins and Outs of Class Action Lawsuits: A Comprehensive Guide

Sometimes, you may buy a product only to find it defective. To make it worse, your search for the product reveals mass complaints. You can ...