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LIBERTY MUT. INS. CO. v. AMERICAN PECCO CORP.

November 30, 1971

LIBERTY MUTUAL INSURANCE COMPANY, the Knollman Company, Plaintiffs,
v.
AMERICAN PECCO CORPORATION, Peiner Machinen Und Schraubenverke, Defendants


Gasch, District Judge.


The opinion of the court was delivered by: GASCH

GASCH, District Judge.

 This matter came on for consideration of a motion by defendant Peiner Machinen Und Schraubenverke to quash service of process. The controversy arises out of the collapse in the District of Columbia of a construction crane manufactured by Peiner, a German corporation; service was made on defendant Peiner by registered mail in March, 1971, under the provisions of the recently enacted "long arm" statute. D.C. Code §§ 13-423 and 13-431 (Supp. 1971).

 Peiner has launched a three-pronged attack in its motion to quash service. Initially it raises the threshold question of whether the D.C. statute is to be given retrospective effect. The cause of action arose in March, 1969, when the crane collapsed. Suit was filed on January, 1970, the effective date of the statute was February 1, 1971. Peiner was served in March, 1971. While the statute itself is silent as to its applicability to causes of action arising prior to its effective date, jurisdictions which have adopted similar expansive statutes have given them retrospective effect. E.g., Hardy v. Rekab, Inc., 266 F. Supp. 508 (D. Md. 1967); Walke v. Dallas, Inc., 209 Va. 32, 161 S.E. 2d 722 (1968); Simonson v. International Bank, 14 N.Y. 2d 281, 251 N.Y.S. 2d 433, 200 N.E. 2d 427 (1964); Nelson v. Miller, 11 Ill. 2d 378, 143 N.E. 2d 673 (1957); See also McGee v. International Life Ins. Co., 355 U.S. 220, 78 S. Ct. 199, 2 L. Ed. 2d 223 (1957). Retrospective application is justified on the grounds that such statutes merely establish a new method of obtaining jurisdiction and effect procedural changes to secure existing substantive rights; the Court concludes that the D.C. Code provision is such a statute and should be given retrospective application in this case.

 
(a) A District of Columbia court may exercise personal jurisdiction over a person, who acts directly or by an agent as to a claim for relief arising from the person's --
 
(1) transacting any business in the District of Columbia;
 
(2) contracting to supply services in the District of Columbia;
 
(3) causing tortious injury in the District of Columbia by an act or omission in the District of Columbia;
 
(4) causing tortious injury in the District of Columbia by an act or omission outside the District of Columbia if he regularly does or solicits business, engages in any other persistent course of conduct, or derives substantial revenue from goods used or consumed, or services rendered, in the District of Columbia.
 
(5) * * *
 
(6) * * *
 
D.C. Code § 13-423(a) (Supp. 1971).

 In its motion to quash and accompanying affidavit, Peiner asserts that it has had no contact with the District of Columbia, transacts no business here, and does not derive substantial revenue from goods used here. In this case, the crane was sold by Peiner to American Pecco Corp., a New York corporation; the terms and conditions of the sale were F.O.B. Hamburg, Germany. The Knollman Company, in turn, subsequently entered into a ...


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