Pennsylvania v. New York

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Pennsylvania v. New York, were two cases which were heard in 1972 before the U.S. Supreme Court. The initial filing was allowed at 407 U.S. 206 and the final decision was ordered at 407 U.S. 223 (1972).

When two states have a controversy between each other, the case is filed for original jurisdiction with the United States Supreme Court. This is one of the very limited circumstances where the court acts as original jurisdiction, e.g. a trial court. In all other cases the court acts as the highest level appellate court in the United States.

In this case, Western Union had issued money orders that were either never redeemed or erroneously underpaid (e.g. a money order for $500 paid as $300), and enough time had passed that the value of the money orders was considered unclaimed property. In such a case, unclaimed money order escheats to the state. The question of the case was, which state should get the money, the state where the money order was purchased, or the state where Western Union was incorporated? As is the practice in original jurisdiction cases, the Supreme Court had a special master hear the case and make a decision.

The final decision ruled that when Western Union does not know who the purchaser or the person who redeemed it is and a money order is never redeemed, the money escheats to the state where Western Union is incorporated, e.g. New York. Where Western Union does know who the purchaser or redeemer is, and a money order is never redeemed or is underreedemed, the remaining money escheats to the state where that purchaser resides, subject to that state's rules for escheat of unclaimed money or property. The Special Master decided to rely on the logic of the previous decision of the U.S. Supreme Court in Texas v. New Jersey, 379 U.S. 674 (1961). The court approved the decision of the Special Master.

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