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MINNESOTA COMMERCIAL MEN'S ASSOCIATION v. BENN

decided: February 19, 1923.

MINNESOTA COMMERCIAL MEN'S ASSOCIATION
v.
BENN, EXECUTRIX OF BENN.



CERTIORARI TO THE SUPREME COURT OF THE STATE OF MINNESOTA.

Author: Mcreynolds

[ 261 U.S. Page 141]

 MR. JUSTICE McREYNOLDS delivered the opinion of the Court.

Petitioner is a mutual assessment, accident and health insurance company, incorporated under the laws of Minnesota, with many members scattered throughout the Union. It issued a certificate of membership to Robert J. Benn, of Montana. He died in 1915, and his executrix -- respondent here -- instituted an action against the Association in a Montana court to recover the sum said to be due under the rules. After service of summons and complaint upon the Secretary of State and the Insurance Commissioner, judgment was entered by default. Thereafter she brought an action in Minnesota upon the judgment and prevailed both in the trial and Supreme Court. 149 Minn. 497.

Defending, the Association claimed that it had never done business in Montana or consented to service of process there; that the insurance contract was executed and to be performed in Minnesota; that the Montana

[ 261 U.S. Page 142]

     court was without jurisdiction, the judgment void, and enforcement thereof would deprive petitioner of property without due process of law contrary to the Fourteenth Amendment.

The decision here must turn upon the effect of the process served on the Secretary of State in Montana. Did the court there acquire jurisdiction to enter judgment?

The Supreme Court of Minnesota followed Wold v. Minnesota Commercial Men's Association (1917), 136 Minn. 380, wherein the opinion referred to Connecticut Mutual Life Insurance Co. v. Spratley, 172 U.S. 602, and Commercial Mutual Accident Co. v. Davis, 213 U.S. 245, but did not cite Hunter v. Mutual Reserve Life Insurance Co., 218 U.S. 573, or Provident Savings Life Assurance Society v. Kentucky, 239 U.S. 103.

Section 6519, subdivision 3, Montana Revised Code of Civil Procedure (1915) provides -- "Any corporation organized under the laws of the state of Montana, or doing business therein, may be served with summons by delivering a copy of the same to the president, secretary, treasurer, or other officer of the corporation, or to the agent designated by such corporation. . . . And if none of the persons above named can be found in the state of Montana, and an affidavit stating that fact shall be filed in the office of the clerk of the court in which such action is pending, then the clerk of the court shall make an order authorizing the service of summons to be made upon the Secretary of State, who shall be and is hereby constituted an agent and attorney in fact to accept service on behalf of such corporation, and service upon said Secretary of State shall be deemed personal service upon said corporation."

Petitioner has never maintained any office except in Minneapolis, Minnesota; its business is transacted there; it has never owned property or sought permission to do business in any other State.

[ 261 U.S. Page 143]

     Applications for membership are presented on printed forms, usually by mail. The by-laws provide that no person can secure membership until the board of directors has accepted his application at the home office and certificate has issued. Such certificates are mailed as directed by the applicants.

Assessments and dues are payable at the Minneapolis office and notices in respect of them are mailed to members ...


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