|United States ex rel. Mayo v. Satan|
|Court||United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania|
|Full case name||United States ex rel. Gerald Mayo v. Satan and His Staff|
|Decided||Dec. 3, 1971|
|Docket nos.||Misc. No. 5357|
|Citation(s)||54 F.R.D. 282|
|Judge(s) sitting||Gerald Joseph Weber|
United States ex rel. Gerald Mayo v. Satan and His Staff, 54 F.R.D. 282 (W.D.Pa. 1971),was a federal court case in which a prisoner filed a lawsuit against Satan and his servants in United States District Court. The case's class-action status was dismissed on procedural grounds.
Gerald Mayo, a 22-year-old inmate at Western Penitentiary in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania,filed a claim before the United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania in which he alleged that "Satan has on numerous occasions caused plaintiff misery and unwarranted threats, against the will of plaintiff, that Satan has placed deliberate obstacles in his path and has caused plaintiff's downfall" and had therefore "deprived him of his constitutional rights" in violation of the United States Code. Mayo filed in forma pauperis ; that is, he asserted that he would not be able to afford the costs associated with his lawsuit and that they therefore should be waived. Mayo decided to file suit lawsuit against Satan and his minions, which was an external force over which the prison had no control.
In his decision,U.S. District Court Judge Gerald J. Weber first noted that the jurisdictional situation was unclear. While no previous cases had been brought by or against Satan and no official precedent existed, Weber jokingly remarked that there was an "unofficial account of a trial in New Hampshire where this defendant filed an action of mortgage foreclosure as plaintiff," a reference to the 1936 short story "The Devil and Daniel Webster" by Stephen Vincent Benét. Judge Weber suggested that the Devil, who had claimed in that story to be an American, should he have appeared, might have been therefore stopped from arguing a lack of personal jurisdiction. In this context, the court noted that Satan was a foreign prince, but did not have occasion to address whether, if sued as a defendant, he would be able to claim sovereign immunity from suit.
Judge Weber noted that three of the four requirements for a class action suit were met, but he was unable to determine whether Mayo would adequately represent the class and therefore the case could not continue.
Finally, the judge noted that Mayo had failed to provide directions to the United States Marshals Service as to service of process.
Citing the foregoing reasons, the court refused the request to proceed in forma pauperis.The court doubted the need for action due to the complaint containing no allegation of residence in plaintiff.
This case is used to teach law students the requirements necessary for the service of process. The textbook Civil Procedure Cases, Materials, and Questions 8th Edition by Freer et al. cites it in the third chapter, stating "When the marshal's office does serve process, the plaintiff may be required to instruct the marshal on how to do so. In Mayo v. Satan & his staff, 54 F.R.D. 282 (W.D. Pa. 1971), the court dismissed the case because the plaintiff failed to render such aid when asking the marshal to serve the devil himself."
In legal terminology, a complaint is any formal legal document that sets out the facts and legal reasons that the filing party or parties believes are sufficient to support a claim against the party or parties against whom the claim is brought that entitles the plaintiff(s) to a remedy. For example, the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (FRCP) that govern civil litigation in United States courts provide that a civil action is commenced with the filing or service of a pleading called a complaint. Civil court rules in states that have incorporated the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure use the same term for the same pleading.
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A lawsuit is a proceeding by a party or parties against another in the civil court of law. The archaic term "suit in law" is found in only a small number of laws still in effect today. The term "lawsuit" is used in reference to a civil action brought by a plaintiff demands a legal or equitable remedy from a court. The defendant is required to respond to the plaintiff's complaint. If the plaintiff is successful, judgment is in the plaintiff's favor, and a variety of court orders may be issued to enforce a right, award damages, or impose a temporary or permanent injunction to prevent an act or compel an act. A declaratory judgment may be issued to prevent future legal disputes.
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PITTSBURGH. A federal judge has refused to order Satan to quit placing temptations before a 22 year old inmate at Western Penitentiary who claimed the Devil caused his downfall. The devil with it all, said US District Court Judge Gerald J. Weber on Monday when he threw the case out of court because federal marshals could not produce the devil. Gerald Mayo of Reading, Pa, filed the petition for the injunction against Satan and his staff, and argued Satan violated his constitutional rights by placing irresistible obstacles in his path. Weber said the nearest thing he could find to a precedent was Stephen Vincent Benet’s short story 'The Devil and Daniel Webster' where Webster contended Satan was a foreign prince and could not sue in America courts. Although he did not go that far, Weber said Mayo failed to show Satan lives within the court’s jurisdiction and that federal marshals were not told how Satan could be summoned.