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McDonald v. Mabee

U.S.
Mar 6, 1917
243 U.S. 90 (1917)

Summary

holding that notice by publication was inadequate to secure jurisdiction over a defendant technically domiciled in Texas but who had actually gone elsewhere to establish residence, although in the same circumstances personal service at his Texas abode might have sufficed

Summary of this case from In re New York, N.H. H.R. Co.

Opinion

ERROR TO THE SUPREME COURT OF THE STATE OF TEXAS.

No. 135.

Submitted January 31, 1917. Decided March 6, 1917.

A person domiciled in Texas left the State intending to make his home elsewhere, his family residing there meanwhile. During his absence an action for money was begun against him in a Texas court. After returning and remaining for a short time, he departed finally and established a domicile in another State. The only service in the action was by publication in a newspaper after his final departure. Based on this service, a personal judgment for money was rendered against him which was sustained under the laws of Texas by the Supreme Court of the State. Held, that the judgment was absolutely void under the Fourteenth Amendment. Quaere: Whether the judgment would have been good if a summons had been left at his last and usual place of abode in Texas while the family was in that State and before the new domicile was acquired? An ordinary personal judgment for money, invalid for want of service amounting to due process of law, is as ineffective in the State of its rendition as it is elsewhere. Since judgments are of reciprocal obligation, a judgment void if sued on by the plaintiff is void also when interposed by the defendant as a bar to the original cause of action. 175 S.W. 676, reversed.

The case is stated in the opinion.

Mr. Henry D. McDonald, pro se, and Mr. A.P. Park for plaintiff in error.

Mr. Joseph W. Bailey for defendant in error.


This is a suit upon a promissory note. The only defence now material is that the plaintiff had recovered a judgment upon the same note in a previous suit in Texas which purported to bind the defendant personally as well as to foreclose a lien by which the note was secured. When the former suit was begun the defendant, Mabee, was domiciled in Texas but had left the State with intent to establish a home elsewhere, his family, however, still residing there. He subsequently returned to Texas for a short time and later established his domicile in Missouri. The only service upon him was by publication in a newspaper once a week for four successive weeks after his final departure from the State, and he did not appear in the suit. The Supreme Court of the State held that this satisfied the Texas statutes and that the judgment was a good personal judgment, overruling the plaintiff's contention that to give it that effect was to deny the constitutional right to due process of law. 175 S.W. 676.

The foundation of jurisdiction is physical power, although in civilized times it is not necessary to maintain that power throughout proceedings properly begun, and although submission to the jurisdiction by appearance may take the place of service upon the person. Michigan Trust Co. v. Ferry, 228 U.S. 346, 353. Pennsylvania Fire Insurance Co. v. Gold Issue Mining Milling Co., decided to-day, post, 93. No doubt there may be some extension of the means of acquiring jurisdiction beyond service or appearance, but the foundation should be borne in mind. Subject to its conception of sovereignty even the common law required a judgment not to be contrary to natural justice. Douglas v. Forrest, 4 Bing. 686, 700, 701. Becquet v. MacCarthy, 2 B. Ad. 951, 959. Maubourquet v. Wyse (1867), 1 Ir. Rep. C.L. 471, 481. And in States bound together by a Constitution and subject to the Fourteenth Amendment, great caution should be used not to let fiction deny the fair play that can be secured only by a pretty close adhesion to fact. Baker v. Baker, Eccles Co., 242 U.S. 394.

There is no dispute that service by publication does not warrant a personal judgment against a non-resident. Pennoyer v. Neff, 95 U.S. 714. Riverside Dan River Cotton Mills v. Menefee, 237 U.S. 189. Some language of Pennoyer v. Neff would justify the extension of the same principle to absent parties, but we shall go no farther than the precise facts of this case require. When the former suit was begun Mabee, although technically domiciled in Texas, had left the State intending to establish his home elsewhere. Perhaps in view of his technical position and the actual presence of his family in the State a summons left at his last and usual place of abode would have been enough. But it appears to us that an advertisement in a local newspaper is not sufficient notice to bind a person who has left a State intending not to return. To dispense with personal service the substitute that is most likely to reach the defendant is the least that ought to be required if substantial justice is to be done. We repeat also that the ground for giving subsequent effect to a judgment is that the court rendering it had acquired power to carry it out; and that it is going to the extreme to hold such power gained even by service at the last and usual place of abode.

Whatever may be the rule with regard to decrees concerning status or its incidents, Haddock v. Haddock, 201 U.S. 562, 569, 632, an ordinary personal judgment for money, invalid for want of service amounting to due process of law, is as ineffective in the State as it is outside of it. 201 U.S. 567, 568. If the former judgment had been sued upon in another State by the plaintiff we think that the better opinion would justify a denial of its effect. If so, it was no more effective in Texas. De la Montanya v. De la Montanya, 112 Cal. 101. Boring v. Penniman, 134 Cal. 514.

The usual occasion for testing the principle to be applied would be such as we have supposed, where the defendant was denying the validity of the judgment against him. But the obligations of the judgment are reciprocal and the fact that here the defendant is asserting and the plaintiff denying its personal effect does not alter the case. Whittier v. Wendell, 7 N.H. 257. Rangely v. Webster, 11 N.H. 299. Middlesex Bank v. Butman, 29 Me. 19. The personal judgment was not merely voidable, as was assumed in the slightly different case of Henderson v. Staniford, 105 Mass. 504, but was void. See Needham v. Thayer, 147 Mass. 536. In Henderson v. Staniford the absent defendant intended to return to his State.

Judgment reversed.


Summaries of

McDonald v. Mabee

U.S.
Mar 6, 1917
243 U.S. 90 (1917)

holding that notice by publication was inadequate to secure jurisdiction over a defendant technically domiciled in Texas but who had actually gone elsewhere to establish residence, although in the same circumstances personal service at his Texas abode might have sufficed

Summary of this case from In re New York, N.H. H.R. Co.

holding that federal Due Process Clause was violated

Summary of this case from Patel v. Tex. Dep't of Licensing

reversing a judgment of the Supreme Court of Texas

Summary of this case from Spir Star AG v. Kimich

In McDonald v. Mabee, 243 U.S. 90 (1917), another case involving an alleged lack of personal jurisdiction, Justice Holmes wrote for the Court, "great caution should be used not to let fiction deny the fair play that can be secured only by a pretty close adhesion to fact."

Summary of this case from Ins. Corp. of Ir. v. Compagnie Des Bauxites De Guinee

In McDonald v. Mabee, supra, the Court indicated that regardless of the power of the State to serve process, an individual may submit to the jurisdiction of the court by appearance.

Summary of this case from Ins. Corp. of Ir. v. Compagnie Des Bauxites De Guinee

In McDonald v. Mabee, 243 U.S. 90, 91, cited in the Milliken case, Mr. Justice Holmes, speaking for the Court, warned against judicial curtailment of this opportunity to be heard and referred to such a curtailment as a denial of "fair play," which even the common law would have deemed "contrary to natural justice."

Summary of this case from Int'l Shoe Co. v. Washington

In McDonald v. Mabee, [ 243 U.S. 90, 37 S.Ct. 343, 61 L.Ed. 608 (1917),] the Court indicated that regardless of the power of the State to serve process, an individual may submit to the jurisdiction of the court by appearance"); see also United States v. Fagan, 821 F.2d 1002, 1015 n. 9 (5th Cir. 1987) ("We do not search the record for unassigned error, and contentions not raised on appeal are deemed waived.").

Summary of this case from Bolloré S.A. v. Import Warehouse, Inc.

In McDonald v. Mabee, 243 U.S. 90, 37 S.Ct. 343, 61 L.Ed. 608 (holding that notice by publication was inadequate to secure jurisdiction over a defendant technically domiciled in Texas but who had actually gone elsewhere to establish residence, although in the same circumstances personal service at his Texas abode might have sufficed), Holmes, J., said: "great caution should be used not to let fiction deny the fair play that can be secured only by a pretty close adhesion to fact.

Summary of this case from In re New York, N.H. H.R. Co.

In McDonald v. Mabee, 1917, 243 U.S. 90, 37 S.Ct. 343, 344, 61 L.Ed. 608, L.R.A. 1917F, 458, Holmes, J., recognized the similarity of the two situations for purposes of determining the sufficiency of the notice, saying: "There is no dispute that service by publication does not warrant a personal judgment against a nonresident.

Summary of this case from Saul v. Saul

In McDonald v. Mabee, [243 U.S. 90 (1917),] the Court indicated that regardless of the power of the State to serve process, an individual may submit to the jurisdiction of the court by appearance"); cf. AllGood Entm't, Inc. v. Gridiron Video, Civ. A. No. 09-2406 (JLL), 2012 WL 395373, at *8 (D.N.J. Feb. 6, 2012) ("A party may waive personal jurisdiction, but when a court inquires sua sponte into personal jurisdiction on a motion for default judgment, a court is determining whether it has the power to enter default judgment.

Summary of this case from Duru v. Georgia

suggesting service by leaving summons with defendant's family at his last and usual place of abode before he left state intending to establish new domicile was least effective method of service that might have obtained personal jurisdiction over him; holding publication service was insufficient to do so

Summary of this case from In re Crosby

suggesting that service upon the defendant's family at his last and usual place of abode would satisfy due process

Summary of this case from QUINCY PARK CONDO. v. BD. OF ZON

In McDonald v. Mabee, 243 U.S. 90, 61 L.Ed. 608, 37 S.Ct. 343, L.R.A. 1917F 458, after an action on a note was instituted against the defendant in Texas, he left to establish a home elsewhere, his family remaining there in the meanwhile.

Summary of this case from Harrison v. Hanvey

In McDonald v. Mabee, supra, Mr. Justice Holmes held that service by publication upon a party absent from the state, and not intending to return thereto, although technically domiciled therein, was not sufficient to support a personal judgment against him. He felt that publication was not the substituted service most likely to result in his receiving actual notice of the litigation and was not, therefore, "substantial justice."

Summary of this case from Redzina v. Provident Institution, c

In McDonald v. Mabee, 243 U.S. 90, 91... cited in the Milliken case, Mr. Justice Holmes speaking for the Court warned against judicial curtailment of this opportunity to be heard and referred to such a curtailment as a denial of 'fair play', which even the common law would have deemed 'contrary to natural justice.'"); and Hovey v. Elliott, 167 U.S. 409, 415 (1897) ("At common law no man was condemned without being afforded opportunity to be heard.").

Summary of this case from Harris Cnty. Appraisal Dist. v. IQ Life Scis. Corp.

In McDonald v. Mabee, supra, [ 243 U.S. 90, 37 S.Ct. 343, 61 L.Ed. 608 (1917)] the Court indicated that regardless of the power of the State to serve process, an individual may submit to the jurisdiction of the court by appearance.

Summary of this case from Datamatic Services Corp. v. Bescos

In McDonald v. Mabee, 243 U.S. 90, 92 [37 S.Ct. 343, 61 L.Ed. 608], Mr. Justice Holmes in discussing a Texas statute that permitted published service in personal actions against Texas citizens, stated: "But it appears to us that an advertisement in a local newspaper is not sufficient notice to bind a person who has left a State intending not to return.

Summary of this case from People v. One 1941 Chrysler Sedan

In McDonald v. Mabee, 243 U.S. 90, the defendant was domiciled in Texas, but had left the State permanently with the intention of establishing a domicile in Missouri.

Summary of this case from In re Estate of McCormick
Case details for

McDonald v. Mabee

Case Details

Full title:McDONALD v . MABEE

Court:U.S.

Date published: Mar 6, 1917

Citations

243 U.S. 90 (1917)
37 S. Ct. 343

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