Hess v. Pawloski

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Hess v. Pawloski
Date decided


Plaintiff was driving a car in Massachusetts when he struck and injured defendant. Plaintiff is a resident of Pennsylvania. The Massachusetts state law says that if an out-of-state resident operates his motor-vehicle in the state, that is an automatic appointment of the registrar as his attorney. As his attorney, the registrar may receive any actions against the out-of-state resident, and sufficient survice could be made by mailing a copy of the process to the out-of-stater. Defendant was awarded damages. Plaintiff sought to recoup the damages and claimed that the Massachusetts statute is a violation of the 14th amendment, which requires "due process of law".

Procedural History

In the original case, the plaintiff was awarded damages. Defendant appealed, S. Ct. affirmed original decision.


"Does a State have the right to subject out-of-state drivers to in personam jurisdiction in suits arising out of accidents in Massachusetts?"


Yes. A state can't exclude people from driving there, but can exclude out-of-state drivers until they consent to suit in that state. In this case, the consent is implied simply by the act of driving in the state.




Service of process must be "within the state of notice upon him or upon some one authorized to accept service for him." Because the registrar was an authorized representative of the plaintiff, this qualifies the service as being served.