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RIINC, INC. v. PEDDIE

May 19, 1961

RIINC, INC., ROSE BARGE LINES, INC., DONALD W. JONES AND H.G. SIMPSON, D/B/A SIMPSON OIL COMPANY, LIBELANTS,
v.
ROBERT PEDDIE, D/B/A PEDDIE BARGE LANDING, AND BIG STATE BARGING COMPANY, A CORPORATION, RESPONDENTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Juergens, District Judge.

Big State Barging Company (hereinafter referred to as respondent) moves to quash and set aside second attempted service of process and to dismiss.

In support of its motion respondent alleges that the first attempted service of process herein was set aside and quashed by agreement of the parties; that thereafter on or about August 16, 1960, service of process was again attempted to be made on respondent by a Deputy United States Marshal of the Southern District of Texas delivering to an officer of respondent in Houston, Harris County, Texas, a copy of what was designated as "first alias monition," issued by the Clerk of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Illinois, together with a copy of the libel. Respondent asserts that service of process in an admiralty action may not validly be made outside the district in which the suit is pending, much less outside the state in which the suit is pending, and points out that since this suit is pending in the Eastern District of Illinois, the attempted service of process is wholly void and invalid and should be quashed and set aside.

Respondent alleges that it has no officer or agent within the Eastern District of Illinois or within the State of Illinois; that it is not now and was not at the time of the institution of this suit doing business in the State of Illinois and was not and is not now present in the State of Illinois so as to be subject to the jurisdiction of this Court.

The libelants aver, inter alia, that the respondent, Robert Peddie, was the owner and operator of a barge landing service and fleet located on the Ohio River at Cairo, Illinois, where he furnished landing service to barge lines, barge owners and tow boats operating on the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers; that the respondent, Big State Barging Company, was the owner and operator of a vessel named M/V Chemical State; that on January 26, 1959, due to the negligence and carelessness of one or both of respondents, individually and/or collectively, the M/V Chemical State was caused or permitted to become loose from its moorings to the Peddie Barge Landing and to become adrift in the current of the Ohio River and negligently and carelessly permitted to collide and come in contact with several fleets of barges which were moored down river, causing said fleets, among which were the barges of the libelants, to become loose from the moorings and become adrift in the current and collide with one another or with bridge piers or other objects, causing damage to certain specified barges belonging to the respondents.

The assertions of respondent concerning the mode, method and place of service establish that process was served on an officer of the respondent by a Deputy United States Marshal in Texas and that the process was issued out of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Illinois. There is no dispute but that service was made on an officer of the respondent — the impropriety of service being based rather on the service of monition being made in the State of Texas, outside the State of Illinois.

It cannot be successfully contended that the respondent was not at the time of the occurrence out of which this action arises present in the State of Illinois.

The occurrence upon which this suit is based allegedly happened on the Ohio River between the States of Illinois and Kentucky.

The authorities disclose that the State of Illinois and the State of Kentucky have concurrent jurisdiction "on" the Ohio River over so much of the Ohio River as flows between them.

    "But jurisdiction, whatever else or more it may
  mean, is jurisdicto, in its popular sense of
  authority to apply the law to the acts of men.
  (Citations omitted). What the Virginia compact most
  certainly conferred on the states north of the Ohio
  was the right to administer the law below low-water
  mark on the river * * *." Wedding v. Meyler,
  192 U.S. 573, 24 S.Ct. 322, 324, 48 L.Ed. 570.

"Concurrent jurisdiction" such as exists between these states means "Jurisdiction, unqualified, being, as it is, the sovereign authority to make, decide on, and execute laws, a concurrence of jurisdiction * * *." Wedding v. Meyler, 192 U.S. 573, 24 S.Ct. 322. The State of Illinois has, at least, concurrent jurisdiction over that part of the river upon which the alleged acts of negligence were committed.

It is beyond dispute that the jurisdiction of the legitimate protective policy of the State of Illinois extends to acts committed on so much of the Ohio River as passes its border; and the alleged act was committed within an area over which the State of Illinois has jurisdiction. That the State of Illinois has power to provide for the redress of wrong committed within its jurisdictional area is not open to dispute.

Respondent does not assert that the service of process here attempted would have been invalid if it had been made in a civil action but strongly urges that the admiralty rules are not so flexible as to provide the method of service which would be authorized in a civil action. In this contention respondent is in error.

Jurisdiction in admiralty cases is not less extensive than in civil cases. To the contrary, the courts have consistently ruled that service of process in admiralty cases is far more liberal in many instances than is service of process in civil cases.

The United States Supreme Court in In re Louisville Underwriters, 134 U.S. 488, 10 S.Ct. 587, 589, 33 ...


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