Washington Equipment Manufacturing Co. v. Concrete Placing Co.

85 Wash. App. 240, 931 P.2d 170 (1997)

Yeazell, pp. 148-149

 

Facts: The defendant corporation is based in Idaho.To do business in Washington, it had to obtain a certificate of authority and register an authorized agent.The defendant bought a machine from the plaintiff in Washington but refused to pay full purchase price. The plaintiff sued for the balance, but the trial court dismissed the suit for lack of jurisdiction.The plaintiff appealed.

 

Issue: Did the defendant consent to general personal jurisdiction when it got the certificate and registered an agent?

 

Rule: NEW RULE!In Washington, by statute, compliance with mandatory requirements in order to do business in Washington does not impose personal jurisdiction on a foreign corporation.

 

Analysis: The court analyzes the statute and finds that the legislature chose to impose personal jurisdiction on foreign corporations in some cases, but not in others, including the present case.

 

Conclusion: The appellate court upheld the trial courtís dismissal.

 

Notes and Problems

 

1.     It would seem that the plaintiff can either sue in Idaho state court or federal district court in Idaho.

2.     Okay!

3.     I would guess that if the constitutional cases had been grossly misinterpreted, the case would have been further appealed.Maybe it was.

a.      It seems as though the realm of personal jurisdiction is filled with fictions, like constructive notice (but maybe thatís no good anymore).

b.     The note certainly suggests that a statute written to give Washington general jurisdiction over any corporation that seeks to do business within its borders would not stand up to constitutional scrutiny.Among other problems, I would wonder if such a statute could be held to be an unconstitutional barrier to interstate trade.

c.     First of all, Hess was a pre-Shoe but post-Pennoyer ruling.The claim in Hess was very closely related to the contact (although, again, weíre in a pre-minimum contacts world).The Supreme Court changed the rules to make Pennoyer fit contemporary society.Also, it was not nearly as impractical for Washington Equipment to travel to Idaho in 1997 as it would have been for the Massachusetts plaintiff to travel to the home state of the nonresident defendant in 1927.

4.     It would seem that, going all the way back to Pennoyer, you can always serve someone process if they are physically present within the borders of your state.

 

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