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GOLDLAWR v. HEIMAN ET AL.

decided: April 30, 1962.

GOLDLAWR, INC
v.
HEIMAN ET AL.



CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE SECOND CIRCUIT.

Warren, Black, Douglas, Clark, Harlan, Brennan, Stewart; Frankfurter took no part in the decision of this case; White took no part in the consideration or decision of this case.

Author: Black

[ 369 U.S. Page 464]

 MR. JUSTICE BLACK delivered the opinion of the Court.

This private antitrust action for treble damages and other relief under §§ 1 and 2 of the Sherman Act*fn1 and § 4 of the Clayton Act*fn2 was brought by the petitioner against a number of defendants in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. After hearings on a motion to dismiss the action on grounds of improper venue and lack of personal jurisdiction over the defendants, the Pennsylvania District Court agreed that venue was improperly laid as to two of the corporate defendants*fn3 because they were neither inhabitants of, "found" nor transacting business in Pennsylvania, these being the alternative prerequisites for venue under § 12 of the Clayton Act.*fn4 That court refused to dismiss the action as to these defendants, however, choosing instead to use its authority under 28 U. S. C. § 1406 (a) to transfer it to the Southern District of New York where, because the defendants could be found and transacted business, venue was proper and personal jurisdiction could be obtained over them by service of process under § 12. These two corporate defendants then appeared in the New York District Court and moved to have the case dismissed by that court on the ground that the Pennsylvania District Court had not had personal jurisdiction over them and, lacking such personal jurisdiction, it had not had power under § 1406 (a) to transfer the

[ 369 U.S. Page 465]

     action.*fn5 The New York District Court granted this motion on the ground asserted,*fn6 and the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, with Judge Hincks dissenting, affirmed on the same ground.*fn7 Because this decision presented a conflict with the uniform course of decisions previously made on this same question by other Courts of Appeal,*fn8 we granted certiorari.*fn9

Section 1406 (a), under which the Pennsylvania District Court transferred this case, provides:

"The district court of a district in which is filed a case laying venue in the wrong division or district shall dismiss, or if it be in the interest of justice, transfer such case to any district or division in which it could have been brought."

Nothing in that language indicates that the operation of the section was intended to be limited to actions in which the transferring court has personal jurisdiction over the defendants. And we cannot agree that such a restrictive interpretation can be supported by its legislative history -- either

[ 369 U.S. Page 466]

     that relied upon by the Court of Appeals*fn10 or any other that has been brought to our attention. The problem which gave rise to the enactment of the section was that of avoiding the injustice which had often resulted to plaintiffs from dismissal of their actions merely because they had made an erroneous guess with regard to the existence of some elusive fact of the kind upon which venue provisions often turn. Indeed, this case is itself a typical example of the problem sought to be avoided, for dismissal here would have resulted in plaintiff's losing a substantial part of its cause of action under the statute of limitations merely because it made a mistake in thinking that the respondent corporations could be "found" or that they "transact . . . business" in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.*fn11 The language and history of § 1406 (a), both as originally enacted*fn12 and as amended in 1949,*fn13 show a congressional purpose to provide as effective a remedy as possible to avoid precisely this sort of injustice.

The language of § 1406 (a) is amply broad enough to authorize the transfer of cases, however wrong the plaintiff may have been in filing his case as to venue, whether the court in which it was filed had personal jurisdiction over the defendants or not. The section is thus in accord with the general purpose which has prompted many of the procedural changes of the past few years -- that of ...


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