Keeton v. Hustler Magazine, Inc.
Annotate this Case
465 U.S. 770 (1984)
U.S. Supreme Court
Keeton v. Hustler Magazine, Inc., 465 U.S. 770 (1984)
Keeton v. Hustler Magazine, Inc.
Argued November 8, 1983
Decided March 20, 1984
465 U.S. 770
Petitioner, a resident of New York, brought a libel suit against respondent magazine publisher (hereafter respondent), an Ohio corporation, in Federal District Court in New Hampshire, alleging jurisdiction by reason of diversity of citizenship. Petitioner's only connection with New Hampshire is the circulation there of a magazine that she assists in producing. Respondent's contacts with New Hampshire consist of monthly sales of some 10,000 to 15,000 copies of its nationally published magazine. The District Court dismissed the suit on the ground that the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment forbade application of New Hampshire's long-arm statute in order to acquire personal jurisdiction over respondent. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that petitioner's lack of contact with New Hampshire rendered that State's interest in redressing the tort of libel to petitioner too attenuated for an assertion of personal jurisdiction over respondent, and that, in view of the "single publication rule," which would require an award of damages caused in all States, as well as New Hampshire's unusually long (6-year) limitation period for libel actions, it would be "unfair" to assert jurisdiction over respondent.
Held: Respondent's regular circulation of magazines in the forum State is sufficient to support an assertion of jurisdiction in a libel action based on the contents of the magazine. Pp. 465 U. S. 773-781.
(a) New Hampshire jurisdiction over a complaint based on this circulation of magazines satisfies the Due Process Clause's requirement that a State's assertion of personal jurisdiction over a nonresident defendant be predicated on "minimum contacts" between the defendant and the State. Pp. 465 U. S. 774-775.
(b) In judging minimum contacts, a court properly focuses on "the relationship among the defendant, the forum, and the litigation." Shaffer v. Heitner, 433 U. S. 186, 433 U. S. 204. Thus, it is relevant to the jurisdictional inquiry here that petitioner is seeking to recover damages suffered in all States in one suit. The contacts between respondent and the forum must be judged in light of that claim, rather than a claim only for damages sustained in New Hampshire. P. 465 U. S. 775.
(c) The combination of New Hampshire's interest in redressing injuries that occur within the State and its interest in cooperating with other States in applying the "single publication rule" demonstrates the propriety
of requiring respondent to answer a multistate libel action in New Hampshire. Pp. 465 U. S. 775-778.
(d) Any potential unfairness in applying New Hampshire's statute of limitations to all aspects of this nationwide suit has nothing to do with jurisdiction to adjudicate the claim. And the chance duration of statutes of limitations of nonforum States has nothing to do with the contacts among respondent, New Hampshire, and the suit. Pp. 465 U. S. 778-779.
(e) The fact that petitioner has very limited contacts with New Hampshire does not defeat jurisdiction, since a plaintiff is not required to have "minimum contacts" with the forum State before that State is permitted to assert personal jurisdiction over a nonresident defendant. A plaintiff's residence in the forum State is not a separate jurisdictional requirement, and lack of residence will not defeat jurisdiction established on the basis of the defendant's contacts. The victim of a libel, like the victim of any other tort, may choose to bring suit in any forum with which the defendant has
"certain minimum contacts . . . such that the maintenance of the suit does not offend 'traditional notions of fair play and substantial justice.'"
(f) Here, where respondent has continuously and deliberately exploited the New Hampshire market, it must reasonably anticipate being haled into court there in a libel action based on the contents of its magazine. And, since respondent can be charged with knowledge of the "single publication rule," it must anticipate that such a suit will seek nationwide damages. There is no unfairness in calling respondent to answer for the contents of its national publication wherever a substantial number of copies are regularly sold and distributed. P. 465 U. S. 781.
682 F.2d 33, reversed and remanded.
REHNQUIST, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which BURGER, C.J., and WHITE, MARSHALL, BLACKMUN, POWELL, STEVENS, and O'CONNOR, JJ., joined. BRENNAN, J., filed an opinion concurring in the judgment,post, p. 465 U. S. 782.
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