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MOORE v. OHIO RIVER COMPANY (12/29/61)

December 29, 1961

MOORE
v.
OHIO RIVER COMPANY, APPELLANT. BELVILLE V. OHIO RIVER COMPANY, APPELLANT.



Appeals, Nos. 167 and 168, March T., 1961, from orders of Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County, Jan. T., 1961, Nos. 2686 and 2687, in cases of Larry Ray Moore v. The Ohio River Company, and Robert E. Belville v. Same. Orders affirmed.

COUNSEL

Ernest R. Dell, with him James R. Orr, and Reed, Smith, Shaw & McClay, for appellant.

Harry Alan Sherman, for appellees.

Before Bell, C.j., Musmanno, Jones, Cohen, Eagen and Alpern, JJ.

Author: Alpern

[ 406 Pa. Page 272]

OPINION BY JUSTICE ALPERN

These appeals are from orders dismissing preliminary objections raising questions of jurisdiction in two trespass cases.

Both plaintiffs, residents and citizens of the State of Illinois, were seamen in the employ of defendant, a West Virginia corporation operating towboats in interstate commerce upon navigable waters. Each brought an action at law under Section 33 of the Merchant Marine Act, approved June 5, 1920 (46

[ 406 Pa. Page 273]

U.S.C.A., ยง 688). Moore was injured in Illinois while working on the M/V W.W. Marting on February 11, 1960. Belville was injured in Illinois while working on the M/V A.H. Crane on September 7, 1958. Each claims he was tossed overboard by the abrupt collision between improperly moored barges and those in tow and that his body was crushed by the barge. They each allege, among other things, that defendant was negligent in failing to provide a safe place to work, in failing to warn of the danger, in negligently tying up the barges, and in failing to provide proper mooring equipment.

It is conceded that defendant-appellant, a nonregistered foreign business corporation was present and doing business in Pennsylvania and that it was properly served. Defendant does not deny that its principal place of business is in Pittsburgh. Its attack on jurisdiction is that at the time the Rules of Civil Procedure relating to venue (Pa. R.C.P. 2179) and service (Pa. R.C.P. 2180) were adopted in 1943, the Supreme Court of the United States had ruled there was a constitutional prohibition against states exercising personal jurisdiction over unregistered foreign corporations on transitory causes of action arising in other states. Defendant admits that the prohibition no longer exists. Perkins v. Benquet Consol. Mining Co., 342 U.S. 437 (1952). However, it contends that since the Pennsylvania Rules originally could not have been construed to cover this case constitutionally, and since the rules remained unchanged in wording, they still must be construed to deny to Pennsylvania courts jurisdiction over such cases.

Fatal to this position is the fact there never has been such a prohibition. The Supreme Court of the United States has never ruled that a state cannot exercise jurisdiction on a transitory cause of ...


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