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CAMDEN v. HARRIS

January 12, 1953

CAMDEN
v.
HARRIS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: John E. Miiller, District Judge.

The question before the Court arises out of a motion to dismiss filed by the defendant. The controlling facts as shown by the complaint and the amendment thereto filed by the plaintiff in the Sebastian Circuit Court, Greenwood District, are as follows:

The plaintiff is a citizen and resident of the State of Arkansas and the defendant is and was at all times material herein a citizen and resident of the State of Oklahoma, and at the time of the alleged injury to plaintiff, both he and the defendant were members of the armed forces of the United States and were stationed at Camp Chaffee, Arkansas.

The plaintiff alleged that on the 11th day of January, 1952, at or about 12:30 in the morning, he was sitting on the right front seat of a Ford automobile owned and operated by the defendant who was driving the same on the Camp Chaffee, Arkansas military reservation travelling east on Fort Smith Boulevard when the said automobile that the defendant was then and there driving left the road at the crest of a curve near the Finance Building; that prior to the time the automobile reached the crest of the curve the defendant was driving at a highly careless and reckless rate of speed and that the plaintiff and two other passengers in the car had remonstrated and implored the defendant to slow down or to permit them to leave the car; that immediately after leaving the crest of the curve the automobile knocked down a speed limit sign and crashed into a culvert; that the said defendant was guilty of gross and wilful and wanton negligence in the operation of said automobile in total disregard of the rights of others, and that as a result of the said accident and the gross, wilful, wanton and negligent acts of the defendant, the plaintiff received serious personal injuries for which he prays judgment against the defendant for a sum in excess of $3,000, exclusive of interest and costs.

Summons was issued by the Clerk of the State Court on October 14, 1952, directed to the Sheriff of Pulaski County, and on November 18, 1952, the summons was duly served on Honorable C.G. Hall, Secretary of the State of Arkansas, in accordance with Act 199 of the General Assembly of the State of Arkansas for the year 1949, and now appearing as Section 27-342.1, Arkansas Statutes 1947, Annotated (1951 Supp.). The statute provides:

  "* * * the acceptance by a non-resident
  owner * * * or operator, of any motor vehicle * * *
  of the rights and privileges conferred by the laws
  of the State of Arkansas to drive or operate * * *
  a motor vehicle upon the public highway of said
  State as evidenced by his * * * operation * * *
  of a motor vehicle * * * on such highway in the
  State of Arkansas shall be deemed equivalent to
  the appointment by such nonresident owner
  (or) * * * operator * * * of the Secretary of the
  State of Arkansas * * * to be the true and lawful
  attorney and agent of such nonresident owner, or
  nonresident operator * * * upon whom may be
  served all lawful process in any action or
  proceedings against him * * * growing out of any
  accident or collision in which said nonresident
  owner, or nonresident operator * * * may be
  involved while operating a motor vehicle on such
  highway * * *."

The case was removed by defendant from the State Court on the grounds of diversity of citizenship and the amount involved, and on December 31, 1952, the motion to dismiss was filed. In said motion it is alleged:

    "1. That the complaint alleges that the
  plaintiff was injured in an accident occurring
  `on Camp Chaffee, Arkansas, Military
  Reservation'. That in truth and in fact the
  accident alleged in the complaint did occur on
  Camp Chaffee Military Reservation, and did not
  occur upon any of the highways of the State of
  Arkansas, but occurred upon a road built,
  maintained and under the exclusive jurisdiction
  and control of the United States Army. That said
  road is not, does not, and never has constituted
  part of the highways of the State of Arkansas,
  but the same is the private property of the
  United States Government.
    "2. That service is attempted to be had upon
  this defendant by service upon the Secretary of
  State. Under the provisions of Section 27-341
  Statutes of Arkansas, 1947 and said act is by its
  term applicable only to accident occurring on
  highways of the State of Arkansas. Said act
  provides that such service may be had in cases,
  `growing out of any accident or collision in
  which the said nonresident owner or any agent,
  servant or employee of any such nonresident owner
  may be operating a motor vehicle on such highways.'
    "That by reason of such purported and attempted
  service the State Court did not acquire
  jurisdiction, and this court does not have
  jurisdiction of the person of this defendant."

It is admitted, and the complaint so alleges, that the accident occurred on a road in the Camp Chaffee Military Reservation. That the road or street on the reservation and in the camp was designated by the military authorities as the Fort Smith Boulevard. While it is not alleged in the complaint, it is admitted that all the land within the Reservation is owned by the United States Government and all buildings, roads and other improvements on the Reservation were constructed and are owned and under the control of the Department of the Army. Entrance to the Reservation and particularly to the immediate camp area where the accident occurred, is through gates where guards are stationed at all times and where anyone desiring to enter the camp area must stop and obtain permission to drive in the area.

It is also shown by the complaint that the plaintiff and the defendant were both members of the armed forces and were stationed at Camp Chaffee. As such members of the armed forces, they, along with all other soldiers stationed at the camp, were permitted to drive their automobiles on the streets and roads on the Reservation, except in certain areas when the trainees were engaged in training or target practice, and in those areas no vehicular traffic was allowed.

Ordinarily civilians are permitted to enter the camp area and to drive their automobiles thereon while visiting someone stationed at the camp, and also tradesmen and persons employed on the Reservation or in the camp are permitted to enter by the guards at the gates, but at no time does anyone have an unrestricted right to use the roads on the Reservation.

The plaintiff in his brief in opposition to the motion to dismiss states:

    "He rode in defendant's automobile from Fort
  Smith, Arkansas, to Camp Chaffee, Arkansas. The
  journey was a continuous one. From one point to
  another. From a place of departure to a place of
  arrival. The destination being Camp Chaffee.
  Camden did not reach his destination, but was
  injured on the way. Injured about 1800 feet west
  of the junction of Fort Smith Boulevard and
  Warehouse Street at Camp Chaffee, ...

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