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Siders v. Upper Mississippi Towing Corp.


decided: March 30, 1970.


Freedman, Aldisert and Gibbons, Circuit Judges.

Author: Per Curiam


Appellant, a resident of Ohio, was injured while working as a seaman on a barge owned by appellee, a Minnesota corporation. The injury occurred while the barge was navigating the Mississippi River in the state of Missouri. Appellant filed a complaint in federal court in the Western District of Pennsylvania claiming damages for negligence under the Jones Act, 46 U.S.C.A. ยง 688, for unseaworthiness under the maritime law, and for maintenance and cure.

Attempting to establish in personam jurisdiction over appellee by invoking provisions of the Pennsylvania long-arm statute,*fn1 appellant insisted that appellee's purchase of certain barges built in the western district was sufficient to meet the "doing business" requirement of the statute. In addition, he issued foreign attachments summoning as garnishees the Marine Office of America, a liability insurance carrier, and the Union Barge Line Corporation. Union Barge admitted a liability to the appellee in a fixed sum. Appellee attacked the service of process under the long-arm statute and sought dismissal of the attachments.

The district court dismissed the complaint, characterizing the service of process as "insufficient" because appellant failed to prove that his cause of action arose from events occurring within Pennsylvania. In Hartley v. Sioux City & New Orleans Barge Lines, Inc., 379 F.2d 354 (3 Cir. 1967), we had held such occurrence necessary to the operation of the long-arm statute. The court below did not reach the question of "doing business", and, in its Memorandum and Dismissal Order, made no reference to the attachment proceedings.

We reverse and remand because the district court erred in its application of the latest pronouncement by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court interpreting that state's long-arm statute.

Prior to a 1963 amendment, section 2011(B) authorized "service of process in any action arising out of actions or omissions of such corporation within this Commonwealth." (Emphasis supplied.) In Florio v. Powder Power Tool Corp., 248 F.2d 367 (3 Cir. 1957), we were called upon to construe the statute in its pre-1963 form at a time when the state appellate courts had not yet interpreted it, and there we held that it did not require the commission of specific tortious acts within the state. Shortly thereafter, however, we were told by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court in Rufo v. Bastian-Blessing Co., 405 Pa. 12, 173 A.2d 123 (1961), that we had predicted incorrectly, the court insisting that the acts had to be committed within the state. The 1963 amendment removed the troublesome language, and in Hartley we were called upon to interpret the effect of this amendment, at a time when the Pennsylvania Supreme Court had not yet considered the matter. Because an interpretation of state service of process procedure was before us, it was necessary to look to state precedents for direction.*fn2 Relying on the strong philosophy of Rufo, this court interpreted "action arising" to mean that some activity had to occur within Pennsylvania in order to make the long-arm statute effective.

We were to learn in Myers v. Mooney Aircraft, 429 Pa. 177, 240 A.2d 505 (1968), that again we had made a wrong prediction. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court held that the 1963 amendment eliminated the necessity for any act to take place or omission to occur in the state. The court said that it is necessary only that the "action arise" in Pennsylvania and that the foreign corporation have "done business" in the state.*fn3

Accordingly, we hold that this action must be controlled by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court's holding in Myers and not by our decision in Hartley. We remand the case to the district court for a resolution of the question whether appellee was "doing business" in Pennsylvania. It will also be necessary for the court to make appropriate disposition of the objections to the foreign attachments.

The judgment of the district court will be vacated and the case remanded for proceedings consistent with the directions heretofore set forth.

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