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LAW v. ATLANTIC COAST LINE RAILROAD COMPANY (03/21/51)

March 21, 1951

LAW, APPELLANT,
v.
ATLANTIC COAST LINE RAILROAD COMPANY



Appeal, No. 217, Jan. T., 1950, from order of Court of Common Pleas No. 3 of Philadelphia County, June T., 1949, No. 3386, in case of Wallace Law v. Atlantic Coast Line Railroad Company. Order affirmed.

COUNSEL

Milford J. Meyer, with him Norman H. Abrahamson and Meyer, Lasch, Hankin & Poul, for appellant.

H. Francis DeLone, with him Barnes, Dechert, Price, Myers & Clark, for appellee.

Before Drew, C.j., Stearne, Jones, Bell, Ladner and Chidsey, JJ.

Author: Bell

[ 367 Pa. Page 171]

OPINION BY MR. JUSTICE BELL

Plaintiff brought an action in trespass for personal injuries sustained on November 19, 1948, in Miami, Florida, while he was employed as a pantry-man waiter on defendant's interstate train. Plaintiff is not a resident of Pennsylvania nor are any of the witnesses to the accident. Defendant is a foreign railroad corporation incorporated under the laws of Virginia and having its principal office in Wilmington, North Carolina. Defendant is not registered to do business in Pennsylvania, and has designated no agent upon whom process may be served in Pennsylvania. The summons in this case was served on the General Agent of the defendant at the Freight Office in Philadelphia.

The court sustained preliminary objections (filed under Pennsylvania Rule of Civil Procedure No. 1017 (b) (1)) to the Complaint which was brought under the Federal Employers' Liability Act, and set aside the service of process on the ground that defendant corporation was not "doing business" in Philadelphia County under Rule 2179 (a) of the Pennsylvania Rules of Civil Procedure, which establishes the venue in actions against corporations.

While defendant was doing considerable business, as we shall see, in Philadelphia County, the question involved is whether it was "doing business" within the meaning of our decisions concerning service of process, and whether to sustain this suit would constitute an unreasonable burden on interstate commerce in violation of Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution of the United States.

It is well settled that whether a state court has jurisdiction of an action brought therein under the Federal Employers' Liability Act is to be determined

[ 367 Pa. Page 172]

    by the state or local law and not by federal laws: Herb v. Pitcairn, 324 U.S. 117, 120; Second Employers' Liability Cases, 223 U.S. 1, 59; and Douglas v. New York, New Haven & Hartford R.R., 279 U.S. 377.

"There is no general principle which conclusively establishes in every case what constitutes 'doing business'. Each case is governed by its own particular facts. Mere solicitation of business within the commonwealth does not in itself constitute the 'doing of business'. It must be ' solicitation plus other activities :' International Shoe Co. v. State of Washington, 326 U.S. 310; Frene v. ...


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