Tickle v. Barton – Case Brief
Tickle v. Barton, 142 W.Va. 188, 95 S.E.2d 427 (W.Va. 1956).
Facts: Tickle (P), an infant, sued Virginia resident Barton (D) in McDowell County, West Virginia for injuries received in an auto accident in that same county. Tickle’s lawyer lured Barton to enter the county under the ruse of a football banquet. Tickle’s lawyer called Barton and did not reveal that he was Tickle’s lawyer or that the real purpose was to serve him with process. Barton accepted the invitation and was served with the complaint. Barton filed a plea in abatement to challenge the service of process (and therefore the court’s exercise of personal jurisdiction over him) without litigating on the merits of the case.
Issue: Is service of process valid where a party induces another party by false representation to come within a jurisdiction in order to serve process on that person?
Holding and Rule: If a person is resident outside a jurisdiction, that person may not be induced by false representation to come within the jurisdiction of the court for the purpose of service of process. The law will not lend its sanction or support to an act, otherwise lawful, which is accomplished by unlawful means.
In this case Barton would not have come into that jurisdiction if Tickle’s attorney had disclosed his identity and his real purpose in extending the invitation. Service of process was invalid and the court therefore did not have personal jurisdiction over Barton.
Disposition: For Barton.
Dissent: At most, Tickle’s attorney merely took advantage of a social gathering that was in Barton’s interest to attend. Barton had full knowledge of the action pending against him in this jurisdiction, which is an important consideration when deciding such issues.
Notes: Service of process accomplished by fraud is not valid.