The issue is whether the relationship of Charles Kurz Company, as agent for the charterer of the defendant's ship at the time of the alleged injury on which this action is based, was such as to make it the defendant shipowner's agent for service of legal process.
We conclude that it was not. At the time the complaint was served on Charles Kurz Company, it was no longer engaged in performing services as agent for the defendant's ship. As there is no showing of any permanent or continuing relationship between the Kurz Company and the defendant, it cannot be said that the Kurz Company was the defendant's agent on whom service could be made with binding force. Zhemeck v. J. H. Winchester & Co., D.C.E.D.Pa. 1958, 23 F.R.D. 8; Higgins v. California Tanker Co., D.C.E.D.Pa.1957, 166 F.Supp. 569; Novitski v. Lykes Steamship Co., D.C.E.D.Pa.1950, 90 F.Supp. 971; Holland v. Parry Navigation Co., D.C.E.D.Pa.1947, 7 F.R.D. 471.
Furthermore, even if the Kurz Company were the defendant's agent, it is clear from the facts stated above that the defendant has not been doing business in this State so as to subject him to service of process. Higgins v. California Tanker Co., supra; Novitski v. Lykes Steamship Co., supra.
We turn now to the plaintiff's contention that the defendant shipowner is subject to the provisions of the Pennsylvania Nonresident Motorist Act.
The question is whether the defendant's ship is a motor vehicle within the meaning of the statute. While a liberal construction of the statute might permit such a finding, we are bound by the Pennsylvania rule that statutes providing for substituted service must be strictly construed. McCall v. Gates, 1946, 354 Pa. 158, 161, 47 A.2d 211; Williams v. Meredith, 1937, 326 Pa. 570, 192 A. 924, 115 A.L.R. 890; Breskman v. Williams, D.C.E.D.Pa.1957, 154 F.Supp. 51; see 46 P.S. § 558(8).
Accordingly, we hold that the defendant's ship is not a motor vehicle within the contemplation of the Nonresident Motorist Act and that service could not be made on the defendant under that statute.
The motion to set aside service of the summons and complaint will be granted. Counsel for defendant will submit an appropriate order.
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