Thompson v. Potlatch Corp

In Thompson v. Potlatch Corp., 326 Ark. 244, 930 S.W.2d 355 (1996), Potlatch did not contend that it had not entered its appearance by filing a motion to dismiss. To the contrary, Potlatch obviously entered its appearance for the purpose of challenging the sufficiency of Thompson's complaint, and it did not question that the court acquired jurisdiction over it. The court obviously deemed itself to have jurisdiction over both Thompson and Potlatch when it heard their motions and entered its order denying Thompson's motion for default judgment. If anything, the Thompson case supports the principle that jurisdiction is acquired over a party who voluntarily enters his appearance in an action, even in the absence of service of process. Thompson's attorney undertook to institute an action against Potlatch in chancery court by merely filing a complaint that contained a certificate of service signed by Thompson's attorney stating that he had hand-delivered a copy of the complaint to Potlatch's attorney. Twenty eight days later, Potlatch filed a motion to dismiss Thompson's complaint for failure to state facts upon which relief could be granted, and Thompson responded with a motion for default judgment, claiming that Potlatch had missed the twenty-day deadline for filing a responsive pleading. The chancellor denied Thompson's motion for default judgment on grounds that no complaint and summons were served on Potlatch or any person authorized to accept service for it. The chancellor also held that the twenty-day deadline for filing responsive pleadings did not apply to foreign corporations doing business in Arkansas, but the Court found it unnecessary to consider that issue because of the lack of effective service of process. In affirming the chancellor, the supreme court held that a default judgment can not be entered upon defective service of process, stating that "since the appellants failed to issue an appropriate summons, the chancellor was correct in denying their motion to strike and motion for a default judgment." Thompson, 326 Ark. at 249, 930 S.W.2d at 358.