Defenses.

Just as a state may condition the right to institute litigation, so may it establish terms for the interposition of certain defenses. It may validly provide that one sued in a possessory action cannot bring an action to try title until after judgment is rendered and after he has paid that judgment.1019 A state may limit the defense in an action to evict tenants for nonpayment of rent to the issue of payment and leave the tenants to other remedial actions at law on a claim that the landlord had failed to maintain the premises.1020 A state may also provide that the doctrines of contributory negligence, assumption of risk, and fellow servant do not bar recovery in certain employment-related accidents. No person has a vested right in such defenses.1021 Similarly, a nonresident defendant in a suit begun by foreign attachment, even though he has no resources or credit other than the property attached, cannot challenge the validity of a statute which requires him to give bail or security for the discharge of the seized property before permitting him an opportunity to appear and defend.1022

Footnotes

1019
Grant Timber & Mfg. Co. v. Gray, 236 U.S. 133 (1915). [Back to text]
1020
Lindsey v. Normet, 405 U.S. 56, 64–69 (1972). See also Bianchi v. Morales, 262 U.S. 170 (1923) (upholding mortgage law providing for summary foreclosure of a mortgage without allowing any defense except payment).. [Back to text]
1021
Bowersock v. Smith, 243 U.S. 29, 34 (1917); Chicago, R.I. & P. Ry. v. Cole, 251 U.S. 54, 55 (1919); Herron v. Southern Pacific Co., 283 U.S. 91 (1931). See also Martinez v. California, 444 U.S. 277, 280–83 (1980) (state interest in fashioning its own tort law permits it to provide immunity defenses for its employees and thus defeat recovery). [Back to text]
1022
Ownbey v. Morgan, 256 U.S. 94 (1921). [Back to text]