Judgments in Personam.

When the subject matter of a suit is merely the defendant’s liability, it is necessary that it should appear from the record that the defendant has been brought within the jurisdiction of the court by personal service of process, or by his voluntary appearance, or that he had in some manner authorized the proceeding.29 Thus, when a state court endeavored to acquire jurisdiction of a nonresident defendant by an attachment of his property within the state and constructive notice to him, its judgment was defective for want of jurisdiction and hence could not afford the basis of an action against the defendant in the court of another state, although it bound him so far as the property attached by virtue of the inherent right of a state to assist its own citizens in obtaining satisfaction of their just claims.30

The fact that a nonresident defendant was only temporarily in the state when he was served in the original action does not vitiate the judgment thus obtained and later relied upon as the basis of an action in his home state.31 Also a judgment rendered in the state of his domicile against a defendant who, pursuant to the statute thereof providing for the service of process on absent defendants, was personally served in another state is entitled to full faith and credit.32 When the matter of fact or law on which jurisdiction depends was not litigated in the original suit, it is a matter to be adjudicated in the suit founded upon the judgment.33

Because the principle of res judicata applies only to proceedings between the same parties and privies, the plea by defendant in an action based on a judgment that he was not party or privy to the original action raises the question of jurisdiction; although a judgment against a corporation in one state may validly bind a stockholder in another state to the extent of the par value of his holdings,34 an administrator acting under a grant of administration in one state stands in no sort of relation of privity to an administrator of the same estate in another state.35 But where a judgment of dismissal was entered in a federal court in an action against one of two joint tortfeasors, in a state in which such a judgment would constitute an estoppel in another action in the same state against the other tortfeasor, such judgment is not entitled to full faith and credit in an action brought against the tortfeasor in another state.36


Grover & Baker Machine Co. v. Radcliffe, 137 U.S. 287 (1890). See also Galpin v. Page, 85 U.S. (18 Wall.) 350 (1874); Old Wayne Life Ass’n v. McDonough, 204 U.S. 8 (1907); Brown v. Fletcher’s Estate, 210 U.S. 82 (1908). [Back to text]
Pennoyer v. Neff, 95 U.S. 714 (1878). See, for a reformulation of this case’s due process foundation, Shaffer v. Heitner, 433 U.S. 186 (1977). [Back to text]
Renaud v. Abbot, 116 U.S. 277 (1886); Jaster v. Currie, 198 U.S. 144 (1905); Reynolds v. Stockton, 140 U.S. 254 (1891). [Back to text]
Milliken v. Meyer, 311 U.S. 457, 463 (1940). In the pioneer case of D’Arcy v. Ketchum, 52 U.S. (1 How.) 165 (1851), the question presented was whether a judgment rendered by a New York court, under a statute which provided that, when joint debtors were sued and one of them was brought into court on a process, a judgment in favor of the plaintiff would entitle him to execute against all, must be accorded full faith and credit in Louisiana when offered as a basis of an action in debt against a resident of that state who had not been served by process in the New York action. The Court ruled that the original implementing statute, 1 Stat. 122 (1790), did not reach this type of case, and hence the New York judgment was not enforceable in Louisiana against defendant. Had the Louisiana defendant thereafter ventured to New York, however, he could, as the Constitution then stood, have been subjected to the judgment to the same extent as the New York defendant who had been personally served. Subsequently, the disparity between operation of personal judgment in the home state has been eliminated, because of the adoption of the Fourteenth Amendment. In divorce cases, however, it still persists in some measure. See infra. [Back to text]
Adam v. Saenger, 303 U.S. 59, 62 (1938). [Back to text]
Hancock Nat’l Bank v. Farnum, 176 U.S. 640 (1900). [Back to text]
Stacy v. Thrasher, 47 U.S. (6 How.) 44, 58 (1848). [Back to text]
Bigelow v. Old Dominion Copper Co., 225 U.S. 111 (1912). [Back to text]