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NATIONAL EQUIPMENT RENTAL v. SZUKHENT Case Brief

Summary of NATIONAL EQUIPMENT RENTAL v. SZUKHENT

Facts: Szukhent (D) signed a lease agreement with the Equip Rental (P) designating an agent in NY for the purpose of accepting service of process within NY.  The agreement did not require the agent to notify Szukhent (D) if service was made.  When Szukhent (D) failed to make lease payments, Equip Rental (P) commenced an action in NY Fed. Ct. by serving the agent.  Both the agent and Equip Rental (P) mailed a copy of the summons and complaint to Szukhent (D).

Procedural History: The Dist. Ct. granted Szukhent (D) motion to quash the service, holding that the lease agreement had not required the agent to mail service.  Court of appeals affirmed.  Supreme Court granted certiorari.

Issue: Does an express contractual appointment of an agent for service of process, and the subsequent transmittal of notice to the (D), satisfy the requirements of Rule 4(d)(1)?

Rule: Service upon an expressly-designated agent is proper, even if the agent is not required to deliver notice to the defendant.

Analysis:  The agent’s prompt acceptance and transmittal of the summons and complaint was sufficient to validate the agency.  Since Szukhent (D) actually received notice, the service complied with due process.

Dissent: (Black) Concerned that such service of process raises serious questions about due process violations.

Dissent: (Brennan)



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