The opinion of the court was delivered by: PINE
This is a motion to dismiss the action on three grounds namely, lack of jurisdiction over defendants, improper venue, insufficiency of process and service of process.
The complaint discloses the following facts:
Plaintiff, a resident of Albany, New York, has filed suit in this Court against two defendants who are in the armed service stationed at the Marine Corps School at Quantico, Virginia. Plaintiff claims damages on account of an automobile accident occurring in the District of Columbia. Service of process on both defendants was effected under the Motor Vehicle Safety Responsibility Act of the District of Columbia, more particularly Sec. 40-423, D.C.Code, 1961 Ed., relating to process on non-residents involved in automibile accidents in the District.
Defendants claim that this section is not available to a non-resident plaintiff and place reliance on Sec. 1391 (a), 28 U.S.C., which reads as follows:
'A civil action wherein jurisdiction is founded only on diversity of citizenship may, except as otherwise provided by law, be brought only in the judicial district where all plaintiffs or all defendants reside.' (Italics supplied.)
While neither plaintiff nor defendants reside within the District of Columbia, this action is not founded on diversity of citizenship, and this section is therefore inapplicable. Instead, it is founded on the general jurisdiction of this Court, similar to that of State courts, which I shall now discuss.
Sec. 11-305, D.C.Code, provides as follows:
'The United States District Court for the District of Columbia, in addition to its jurisdiction as a United States district court, shall continue to have and exercise all the jurisdiction possessed and exercised by it on August 31, 1948.' (This is the last effective date of the Code provision which this Section superseded.) (Italics supplied.)
Sec. 11-306, D.C.Code, provides:
'Said courts (United States District Court for the District of Columbia) shall have cognizance * * * of all cases in law and equity between parties, both or either of which shall be resident or be found within said district * * *.'
Because of these sections of the D.C.Code, this Court 'is clothed with a two-fold jurisdiction.' It has the jurisdiction of United States District Courts generally, attained under Art. III of the Constitution, and all the ordinary and usual jurisdiction of a State court attained under Sec. 8, Art. I of Constitution. King v. Wall & Beaver Street Corp., 79 U.S.App.D.C. 234, 145 F.2d 377; Western Urn Mfg. Co. v. American Pipe & Steel Corp., 109 U.S.App.D.C. 145, 284 F.2d 279. Diversity of citizenship is therefore not a prerequisite to jurisdiction or venue. However, the Code provision last above quoted limits jurisdiction to cases where both or either of the parties shall be a resident or found within this District.
This limitation is further restricted as regards defendants in a succeeding section of the Code, Sec. 11-308, D.C.Code, supra, but it contains an exception. The section reads as follows:
'No action or suit shall be brought in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia by original process against any person who shall not be an inhabitant of, or found within, the District, except as otherwise specially provided.' (Italics supplied.)
Among the exceptions specially provided is Sec. 40-423, D.C.Code, supra, pursuant to which defendants were served with process herein. This section, the constitutionality of which can no longer be questioned in the light of Hess v. Pawloski, 274 U.S. 352, 47 S. Ct. 632, 71 L. Ed. 1091, provides for substituted service on a non-resident motorist involved in an automobile accident on a public highway in the District of Columbia. By its terms, process served upon a non-resident pursuant thereto, shall have the same legal force and validity as if served ...