Case of the Day: Hudson Financial Corp. v. Autoliv Steering Wheels Mexico

The case of the day is Hudson Financial Corp. v. Autoliv Steering Wheels Mexico S. de R.L. de C.V. (N.D. Ohio 2012). The claim was that Autoliv had bought goods from Red Rock Stamping and Tremont Manufacturing, both of which had assigned their accounts receivable to Hudson Financial, the plaintiff. Hudson sued Autoliv Steering, a Mexican automobile parts company, in the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas for nonpayment, and Autoliv removed the case to federal court and moved to dismiss for insufficient service of process.

Hudson had attempted to serve Autoliv by certified mail sent to a warehouse in Laredo, Texas. Autoliv submitted an affidavit stating that it “operates solely within Mexico and has no plants, offices, or agents in Laredo, Texas or anywhere else within the United States.”

Hudson didn’t put up much of a fight. It submitted a Dun & Bradstreet report giving a Laredo address for an Autoliv branch. You could have a discussion about whether the report was within an exception to the rule against hearsay. Maybe it was a business record, though it does not seem Hudson tried to make the showing required under FRE 803(6). Maybe it was within the exception for “market quotations, lists, directories, or other compilations that are generally relied on by the public or by persons in particular occupations,” FRE 803(17), though again, it doesn’t seem Hudson tried to make this showing. But in any event, the court didn’t rely on the D&B report, and according to the decision, Hudson folded up its tent, “inform[ing] the Court that it does not intend to pursue service under the Hague Convention.”

I don’t get it. The removal tells me that someone thought more than $75,000 was at stake in the litigation. Sure, Mexico may not be the easiest country for Hague Convention service, but live a little! What would the translations into Spanish have cost Hudson? I hope that Hudson’s lawyers didn’t simply give up because of the perceived difficulty of service.

About Ted Folkman

Ted Folkman is a shareholder with Murphy & King, a Boston law firm, where he has a complex business litigation practice. He is the author of International Judicial Assistance (MCLE 2d ed. 2016), a nuts-and-bolts guide to international judicial assistance issues, and of the chapter on service of process in the ABA's forthcoming treatise on International Aspects of US Litigation, and he is the publisher of Letters Blogatory, the Web's first blog devoted to international judicial assistance, which the ABA recognized as one of the best 100 legal blogs in 2012, 2014, and 2015.

3 thoughts on “Case of the Day: Hudson Financial Corp. v. Autoliv Steering Wheels Mexico

  1. Your fears about giving up due to perception may be spot on. While not exactly in the hinterlands, outside of the couple of global and large regional firms here in Cleveland, cross-border litigation is not routine for a good number of mid-size and small firms in the region. Perhaps a visit to the Dept. of State website (or this blog site) by a law clerk or paralegal was not made before the court was told service under the Hague Convention would not be pursued.

    1. Jon, I grew up in Cleveland and so I would never call it the hinterlands! Actually, this year in particular, Boston and Cleveland had quite a bit in common. I have in mind the abysmal showings by the Tribe and the Sox. But at least you have Terry Francona on the way.

      1. Ted – I’m a transplant from Buffalo, so that makes me a lifelong Yankees fan. It is good for the Tribe and baseball that Francona is here. Maybe I can take my sons next year and not have to stomach a Triple-A team at MLB prices. I do not handle as much litigation as in the past, but when I do it’s cross-border so your blog is great for me to keep up a bit on key issues. Best regards.

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