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Allied-Signal v. Purex Industries Inc.

Decided: July 12, 1990.

ALLIED-SIGNAL INC., A CORPORATION, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,
v.
PUREX INDUSTRIES, INC., A CORPORATION, DEFENDANT-RESPONDENT



On appeal from the Superior Court, Law Division, Morris County.

Antell, Bilder and Ashbey. The opinion of the court was delivered by Ashbey, J.A.D.

Ashbey

The only question in this case is whether plaintiff Allied-Signal, Inc., a corporation with principal offices in New Jersey, obtained personal jurisdiction over defendant Purex when Allied served its complaint on Purex's New Jersey agent registered for service of process with the Secretary of State. Purex's motion to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction was granted.*fn1 Allied appeals and we reverse.

As both parties framed the issue, it is whether Purex had sufficient "minimum contacts" with New Jersey to justify the exercise of State jurisdiction. Purex contended that, while it owned real property here, registering its agent for process

was only related to New Jersey environmental litigation stemming from its predecessor's activities.*fn2 Purex claimed it had effectively left the State for purposes of Allied's action, citing Keech v. Lapointe Mach. Tool Co., 200 N.J. Super. 177, 182, 491 A.2d 10 (App.Div.1985).

We know of no New Jersey or Supreme Court authority for the proposition that a corporation may limit a state's jurisdiction in the manner Purex suggests and none has been cited to us. Moreover, Purex asserts no limiting action on its part in the appointment process under N.J.S.A. 14A:4-2.*fn3 Nor does Purex contend it has unsuccessfully attempted to withdraw its registration.

Our review of the authority on which Purex relies discloses only one case that found in personam jurisdiction lacking over a corporation registered to do business in the forum state where the corporation's registered agent was served with process: Ratliff v. Cooper Labs, 444 F.2d 745 (4th Cir.1971), cert. den. 404 U.S. 948, 92 S. Ct. 271, 30 L. Ed. 2d 265 (1971), reh'g den. 404 U.S. 1006, 92 S. Ct. 561, 30 L. Ed. 2d 559 (1971).*fn4 There the Circuit Court reasoned

Plaintiffs' only interest in South Carolina is in its relatively long statute of limitations (six years), and plaintiffs' only contact with South Carolina is the bringing of these lawsuits for the sole purpose of availing themselves of that statute -- the limitations period having run in all other states having any connection with the claims presented . . . . [444 F.2d at 746].

That case stands in the shadow of many succeeding Supreme Court cases.*fn5 Whether it remains good law is not before us.

New Jersey chooses to exercise jurisdiction over nonresidents to the utmost limits allowed by the United States Constitution. R. 4:4-4(c)(1); Charles Gendler & Co. v. Telecom Equipment Corp., 102 N.J. 460, 473, 508 A.2d 1127 (1986). Under the Constitution it is fundamental that every state possess exclusive jurisdiction and sovereignty over persons and property within its territory.

While due process merely requires that a nonresident defendant "reasonably anticipate" being sued in the forum state, World-Wide Volkswagen Corp. v. Woodson, 444 U.S. 286, 292, 100 S. Ct. 559, 567, 62 L. Ed. 2d 490, 498 (1980), presence of an individual defendant in the forum state accompanied by service, confers in personam jurisdiction. See Burnham v. Superior Court of ...


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