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
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
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
Perhaps the Szukhents
should have read the fine print more closely.