465 U.S. 770 (1984), 82-485, Keeton v. Hustler Magazine, Inc.

Docket Nº:No. 82-485.
Citation:465 U.S. 770, 104 S.Ct. 1473, 79 L.Ed.2d 790
Party Name:Kathy KEETON, Petitioner, v. HUSTLER MAGAZINE, INC., et al.
Case Date:March 20, 1984
Court:United States Supreme Court
 
FREE EXCERPT

Page 770

465 U.S. 770 (1984)

104 S.Ct. 1473, 79 L.Ed.2d 790

Kathy KEETON, Petitioner,

v.

HUSTLER MAGAZINE, INC., et al.

No. 82-485.

United States Supreme Court.

March 20, 1984

Argued Nov. 8, 1983.

[104 S.Ct. 1475] Syllabus[*]

SYLLABUS

Petitioner, a resident of New York, brought a libel suit against respondent magazine publisher (hereafter respondent), [104 S.Ct. 1476] 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. 1478 - 1482.

(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. P. 1478.

(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, 204, 97 S.Ct. 2569, 2579, 53 L.Ed.2d 683. 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. 1478.

(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" demonstrate the propriety

Page 771

of requiring respondent to answer a multistate libel action in New Hampshire. Pp. 1479 - 1480.

(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 claims. 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. P. 1480.

(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.' " International Shoe Co. v. Washington, 326 U.S. 310, 316, 66 S.Ct. 154, 158, 90 L.Ed. 95. Pp. 1480 - 1481.

(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 [104 S.Ct. 1477] wherever a substantial number of copies are regularly sold and distributed. P. 1481.

682 F.2d 33 (CA1 1982), reversed and remanded.

COUNSEL

Norman Roy Grutman argued the cause for petitioner. With him on the briefs was Jeffrey H. Daichman.

Stephen M. Shapiro, by invitation of the Court, 464 U.S. 958, argued the cause as amicus curiae in support of the judgment below. Lea Brilmayer, David Kahn, and Henry Monaghan filed a brief for respondents.*

* Briefs of amici curiae urging affirmance were filed for the Motor Vehicle Manufacturers Association by Robert L. Stern, Stephen M. Shapiro, William H. Crabtree, and Edward P. Good; for the Association of American Publishers, Inc., by R. Bruce Rich; and for CBS Inc. et al. by Robert D. Sack, Douglas P. Jacobs, Harvey L. Lipton, Peter C. Gould, Bruce W. Sanford, and Lawrence Gunnels.

Norman Roy Grutman, New York City, for petitioner.

Stephen M. Shapiro, Chicago, Ill., as amicus curiae in support of the judgment below at the invitation of Court.

OPINION

Page 772

Justice REHNQUIST delivered the opinion of the Court.

Petitioner Kathy Keeton sued respondent Hustler Magazine, Inc., and other defendants in the United States District Court for the District of New Hampshire, alleging jurisdiction over her libel complaint by reason of diversity of citizenship. The district court dismissed her suit because it believed that the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution forbade the application of New Hampshire's long-arm statute in order to acquire personal jurisdiction over respondent. The Court of Appeals for the First Circuit affirmed, 682 F.2d 33 (CA1 1982), summarizing its concerns with the statement that "the New Hampshire tail is too small to wag so large an out-of-state dog." Id., at 36. We granted certiorari, 459 U.S. 1169, 103 S.Ct. 813, 74 L.Ed.2d 1012 (1983), and we now reverse.

Petitioner Keeton is a resident of New York. Her only connection with New Hampshire is the circulation there of copies of a magazine that she assists in producing. The magazine bears petitioner's name in several places crediting her with editorial and other work. Respondent Hustler Magazine, Inc., is an Ohio corporation, with its principal place of business in California. Respondent's contacts with New Hampshire consist of the sale of some 10 to 15,000 copies of Hustler magazine in that State each month. See J.A., at 81a-86a. Petitioner claims to have been libeled in five separate issues of respondent's magazine published between September, 1975, and May, 1976. 1

Page 773

The Court of Appeals, in its opinion affirming the District Court's dismissal of petitioner's complaint, held that petitioner's lack of contacts with New Hampshire rendered the State's interest in redressing the tort of libel to petitioner too attenuated for an assertion of personal jurisdiction over respondent. The Court of Appeals observed that the "single publication rule" ordinarily applicable in multistate libel cases would require it to award petitioner "damages caused in all states" should she prevail in her suit, even though the bulk of petitioner's alleged injuries had been sustained outside New Hampshire. 682 F.2d, at 35. 2 The court also stressed New Hampshire's unusually long (6-year) limitations period for libel actions. New Hampshire was the only State where petitioner's suit would not have been time-barred when it was filed. Under these circumstances, the Court of Appeals concluded that it would be "unfair" to assert jurisdiction over...

To continue reading

FREE SIGN UP