National Equip. Rental Ltd. v. Szukhent
375 U.S. 311 (1964)

  • The Szukhents, who were farmers living in Michigan, rented some farm equipment from NER.
    • The small print of the contract said that the Szukhents appointed the wife of the VP of NER as their agent in New York.
      • That meant that NER could meet the requirement for service of process by informing the VP’s wife.
  • Things went badly and NER sued the Szukhents in New York.
    • NER served the wife of the VP.
  • The Szukhents made a motion to dismiss the case.
    • The Szukhents argued that they had no contacts in New York, and did not live there. Therefore New York did not have jurisdiction.
  • The US Supreme Court found for NER and allowed the suit to proceed in New York.
    • The US Supreme Court found that that, as a matter of due process, there is nothing wrong with the farmers appointing a New York agent for the purpose of receiving service of process..
    • The Court noted that you can always consent to jurisdiction, no matter how much contact you have with that State. Since the Szukhents signed the contract with the provision about the VP’s wife, they had effectively consented to be sued in New York.
      • Perhaps the Szukhents should have read the fine print more closely.