Civil Procedure – Service of Process Under Nonresident Motorist Statute – Effect of Death of Nonresident Defendant

A wife sued for the wrongful death of her husband, which was allegedly caused by a nonresident defendant’s negligent operation of his automobile on a Wisconsin highway while the plaintiff’s husband was a passenger therein. Service of process was made on the Commissioner of the Motor Vehicle Department in Wisconsin, and copies of the summons and complaint were mailed to defendant in Illinois in accordance with the Wisconsin nonresident motorist statute. Shortly thereafter, before a judgment was rendered, defendant died. Plaintiff sought to revive the action against defendant’s administrator by serving notice of the filing of a petition for revival on the Commissioner of the Motor Vehicle Department in Wisconsin and by serving upon the nonresident administrator by registered mail a copy of the petition. On special appearance by the administrator the circuit court ordered the petition for revival and the notice set aside and vacated. On appeal, held, reversed. By virtue of the nonresident motorist statute a user of the highway makes an irrevocable appointment of a state official as his agent for the purpose of receiving process. The appointment is binding on the nonresident’s administrator, and an action pending against the decedent at the time of his death may be revived against the administrator. Tarczynski v. Chicago, Milwaukee;. St. Paul & Pacific R. R., 261 Wis. 149, 52 N. W. (2d) 396 (1952).