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Hanna v. Plumer

United States Supreme Court
380 U.S. 460 (1965)

Hanna v. Plumer


Hanna (plaintiff), an Ohio resident, got into a car accident with Plumer (defendant), a Massachusetts resident. Plumer died from the accident and Hanna sued in federal court the estate of Plumer for personal injuries. Hanna served Plumer’s executor with process by leaving a copy of the summons/complaint at his residence with someone of suitable age and discretion. This practice was in accordance with Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (FRCP) 4(d)(1) [now found at 4(e)(2)(B)]. However, Massachusetts state law requires that executors be served by hand. Plumer’s estate filed for summary judgment on the grounds that Hanna did not properly serve the executor within the statue of limitations. Plumer’s estate argued that state law, and not the FRCP, should apply. The district court and the court of appeals both ruled in Plumer’s favor and the United States Supreme Court granted review.

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