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decided: November 17, 1890.



Author: Fuller

[ 137 U.S. Page 104]

 MR. CHIEF JUSTICE FULLER delivered the opinion of the court.

It is contended that the Circuit Court should have refused to proceed with the action if it appeared to its satisfaction that the service upon the defendant was obtained by means of a fraudulent device and trick; and that this question was presented by the plea to the jurisdiction, the motion for a non-suit, the motion to dismiss, and a request, which was refused,

[ 137 U.S. Page 105]

     for an instruction to the jury to render a verdict for the defendant, if they found from the evidence that the service was fraudulently procured and that the defendant had ignorantly acquiesced therein.

If a person is induced by false representations to come within the jurisdiction of a court for the purpose of obtaining service of process upon him, and process is there served, it is such an abuse that the court will, on motion, set the process aside; but no such motion was made here, and the question as raised went deeper than objection to service merely, and attacked the power of the court to proceed at all.

Under the laws of Nebraska, actions against non-residents and foreign corporations might be brought in any county in which there might be property of, or debts owing to, the defendant; and the plaintiff in a civil action for the recovery of money might, at or after the commencement thereof, have an attachment against the property of a defendant, when such defendant was a foreign corporation or a non-resident of the State. Comp. Stats. pp. 860, 877. The plaintiff had proceeded under these provisions, an order of attachment had been made and garnishee process duly served. There was no pretence that property had been brought into the State by means of fraudulent inducement, or that the claim against the garnishee was fictitious. If the case had gone to judgment under the attachment proceedings, it would only have subjected the property of the defendant lying within the territorial jurisdiction of the court to the payment of the plaintiff's demand. The case would have been in its essential nature a proceeding in rem. Had defendant moved to set the service aside and the motion been sustained, the court would not have dismissed the case for want of jurisdiction. The appearance of the defendant, however, converted into a personal suit that which was before a proceeding in rem. By its demurrer, petition for removal, answer and amended answer, and participation in the trial, the defendant waived all question of the service of process. And the record shows a resolution adopted by the defendant authorizing the attorney who appeared for it "to appear and represent this company as its sole attorney

[ 137 U.S. Page 106]

     in all suits and proceedings at law or in equity now pending, or which may hereafter be brought."

By the amendment to its answer, its plea and motions, the defendant insisted that the court had no jurisdiction to proceed, and thereby declined to stand upon the objection to the service, and submitted itself to the decision of the court in respect to jurisdiction over the subject matter, which jurisdiction, it is entirely clear, the court possessed. These proceedings were taken by defendant after discovering the alleged ground of objection to the service and there was no action on its part confined solely to the purpose of questioning the jurisdiction over the person. That such jurisdiction resulted under the circumstances admits of no doubt, and the rule to that effect seems well settled in Nebraska, Kansas and Ohio, which all have similar codes. Elliott v. Lawhead, 43 Ohio St. 171; Porter v. Chicago & Northwetern Railroad, 1 Nebraska, 14; Aultman v. Steinan, 8 Nebraska, 112; Meixell v. Kirkpatrick, 29 Kansas, 679.

Nor are we impressed with the tenability of plaintiff's position in relation to the service in any view. Where a foreign corporation is not doing business in a State, and the president or any officer is not there transacting business for the corporation and representing it in the State, it cannot be said that the corporation is within the State, so that service can be made upon it. St. Clair v. Cox, 106 U.S. 350; New Eng. Mut. Life Ins. Co. v. Woodworth, 111 U.S. 138; Ex parte Schollenberger, 96 U.S. 369. So that whether the president of this company was inveigled into Lancaster County or not, the service upon him amounted to no more than an informal notice only and did not bring the company into court, and this the company was bound to know and must be held to have known. Without regard to the evidence relied on to show that there was concealment of the circumstances in relation to the service, knowledge of these circumstances was wholly immaterial, in view of the fact that the service was unavailing to bring the defendant into court unless it chose to come there. we are of opinion that no error was committed by the court in its rulings upon this subject.

[ 137 U.S. Page 107]

     Errors are also assigned in respect to certain instructions given or refused by the court, bearing on the question of recovery upon the ...

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