Federal Procedure – Venue of Corporations – Inapplicability of 28 U.S.C. §1391 (c) to Removal Actions

Plaintiff, a resident of Florida, brought a libel action in a Florida court against the publisher of Look, an Iowa corporation. Defendant maintained no office in Florida, and sold its magazines to two independent wholesale companies for distribution to . Florida retailers; it was on an agent of one of these wholesalers that process was originally served. However, defendant did employ a “circulation road man,” who traveled throughout several states including Florida to check retail outlets for complaints and to see that proper displays were maintained. Defendant removed the action to the Federal District Court for the Southern District of Florida. That court issued an additional summons, which was served on the circulation road man, and quashed the original state court service. The case was then dismissed on the ground that the court had no jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. §1391(c), since defendant was not doing business in the Southern District of Florida. The Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit affirmed. But on certiorari, held, reversed. Section 1391(c) relates to venue, not jurisdiction, and is inapplicable to removal actions; under 28 U.S.C. §1441(a), venue was properly laid in the Florida district court. Justices Burton, Black, and Jackson, dissenting in part, agreed as to venue but felt that the court should have decided whether or not defendant was doing business in Florida. The latter two urged an affirmative answer and emphasized in this respect the statutory codification of the doctrine of forum non conveniens contained in 28 U.S.C. §1404(a). Polizzi v. Cowles Magazines, Inc., 345 U.S. 663, 73 S.Ct. 900 (1953).