Calder v. Jones
Annotate this Case
465 U.S. 783 (1984)
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U.S. Supreme Court
Calder v. Jones, 465 U.S. 783 (1984)
Calder v. Jones,
Argued November 8, 1983
Decided March 20, 1984
465 U.S. 783
Respondent, a professional entertainer who lives and works in California and whose television career was centered there, brought suit in California Superior Court, claiming that she had been libeled in an article written and edited by petitioners in Florida and published in the National Enquirer, a national magazine having its largest circulation in California. Petitioners, both residents of Florida, were served with process by mail in Florida, and, on special appearances, moved to quash the service of process for lack of personal jurisdiction. The Superior Court granted the motion on the ground that First Amendment concerns weighed against an assertion of jurisdiction otherwise proper under the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The California Court of Appeal reversed, holding that a valid basis for jurisdiction existed on the theory that petitioners intended to, and did, cause tortious injury to respondent in California.
1. Jurisdiction by appeal does not lie in this Court, but under 28 U.S.C. § 2103 the jurisdictional statement will be treated as a petition for certiorari, which is hereby granted. Pp. 465 U. S. 787-788.
2. Jurisdiction over petitioners in California is proper because of their intentional conduct in Florida allegedly calculated to cause injury to respondent in California. Pp. 465 U. S. 788-791.
(a) The Due Process Clause permits personal jurisdiction over a defendant in any State 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.'"
International Shoe Co. v. Washington, 326 U. S. 310, 326 U. S. 316. 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. P. 465 U. S. 788.
(b) Here, California is the focal point both of the allegedly libelous article and of the harm suffered. Jurisdiction over petitioners is therefore proper in California based on the "effects" of their Florida conduct in California. Pp. 465 U. S. 788-789.
(c) Petitioners are not charged with mere untargeted negligence, but rather, their intentional, and allegedly tortious, actions were expressly aimed at California. They wrote and edited an article that they
knew would have a potentially devastating impact upon respondent, and they knew that the brunt of that injury would be felt by respondent in the State in which she lives and works and in which the magazine has its largest circulation. Under these circumstances, petitioners must "reasonably anticipate being haled into court there" to answer for the truth of the statements made in the article. Pp. 465 U. S. 789-790.
(d) While petitioners' contacts with California are not to be judged according to their employer's activities there, their status as employees does not insulate them from jurisdiction, since each defendant's contact with the forum State must be assessed individually. P. 465 U. S. 790.
(e) First Amendment concerns do not enter into the jurisdictional analysis. Such concerns would needlessly complicate an already imprecise inquiry. Moreover, the potential chill on protected First Amendment activity stemming from defamation actions is already taken into account in the constitutional limitations on the substantive law governing such actions. Pp. 465 U. S. 790-791.
138 Cal.App.3d 128, 187 Cal.Rptr. 825, affirmed.
REHNQUIST, J., delivered the opinion for a unanimous Court.