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Pennoyer v. Neff

From lawbrain.com

Pennoyer v Neff, 95 U.S. 714, 24 L. Ed. 565 (1878) is a civil procedure case from Oregon holding that a court may exercise personal jurisdiction over a non-resident party only if that party is personally served with process while within the state, or has property within the state, and that property is attached before litigation begins.

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Contents

Summary of Case Facts

Mitchell sued Neff to recover unpaid legal fees. In an Oregon newspaper, Mitchell published notice of the lawsuit but did not serve Neff personally. Neff failed to appear and a default judgment was entered against him. Mitchell seized land owned by Neff to satisfy the judgment and the Sheriff auctioned the land. Pennoyer purchased the land, and Neff sought to recover the possession of the land from Pennoyer.

Issue

Whether a state court can exercise personal jurisdiction over a non-resident who has not been personally served while within the state, and whose property within the state was not attached before the onset of litigation.

Holding and Law

No, a court may enter a judgment against a non-resident only if the party is personally served with process while within the state, or has property within the state, and that property is attached before litigation begins. The Oregon court did not have personal jurisdiction over Neff because he was not served in Oregon. The default judgment was declared invalid. Therefore, the sheriff had no power to auction the real estate and title never passed to Mitchell. Neff was the legal owner.

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