No Jurisdiction Over Satan

lawsuit against satanDoes a court have personal jurisdiction over the Prince of Darkness? Depends where he lives.

In Mayo v. Satan and His Staff, the plaintiff filed a civil rights action alleging Satan and his employees “on numerous occasions caused plaintiff misery and unwarranted threats, against the will of plaintiff” and “placed deliberate obstacles in his path and caused plaintiff’s downfall.” Plaintiff asserted these transgressions violated his constitutional rights. He sought the court’s permission to proceed in forma pauperis.

U.S. District Judge Weber denied the application, noting several complicated legal issues the plaintiff’s lawsuit would raise (some paragraph breaks inserted):

Even if plaintiff’s complaint reveals a prima facie recital of the infringement of the civil rights of a citizen of the United States, the Court has serious doubts that the complaint reveals a cause of action upon which relief can be granted by the court.

 We question whether plaintiff may obtain personal jurisdiction over the defendant in this judicial district. The complaint contains no allegation of residence in this district. While the official reports disclose no case where this defendant has appeared as defendant there is an unofficial account of a trial in New Hampshire where this defendant filed an action of mortgage foreclosure as plaintiff.

The defendant in that action was represented by the preeminent advocate of that day, and raised the defense that the plaintiff was a foreign prince with no standing to sue in an American Court. This defense was overcome by overwhelming evidence to the contrary. Whether or not this would raise an estoppel in the present case we are unable to determine at this time.

If such action were to be allowed we would also face the question of whether it may be maintained as a class action. It appears to meet the requirements of Fed.R. of Civ.P. 23 that the class is so numerous that joinder of all members is impracticable, there are questions of law and fact common to the class, and the claims of the representative party is typical of the claims of the class. We cannot now determine if the representative party will fairly protect the interests of the class.

We note that the plaintiff has failed to include with his complaint the required form of instructions for the United States Marshal for directions as to service of process.

For the foregoing reasons we must exercise our discretion to refuse the prayer of plaintiff to proceed in forma pauperis.

Hmm, that’s interesting that a plaintiff purporting to be the devil filed a mortgage foreclosure action way back in the day. Maybe that’s who’s behind the current mortgage meltdown.

United States ex rel. Gerald Mayo v. Satan & His Staff, 54 F.R.D. 282, 283 (W.D. Pa. 1971).

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Andrew Jay McClurg is a law professor whose teaching and research interests include tort law, products liability, legal education, privacy law and firearms policy. He holds the Herbert Herff Chair of Excellence in Law at the University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law.
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