Calder v. Jones

Decision Date20 March 1984
Docket NumberNo. 82-1401,82-1401
Citation465 U.S. 783,104 S.Ct. 1482,79 L.Ed.2d 804
PartiesIain CALDER and John South, Appellants, v. Shirley JONES
CourtU.S. Supreme Court
Syllabus

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.

Held:

1. Jurisdiction by appeal does not lie, but under 28 U.S.C. § 2103 the jurisdictional statement will be treated as a petition for certiorari, which is hereby granted. Pp. 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. 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, 316, 66 S.Ct. 154, 158, 90 L.Ed. 95 (1945). 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 (1977). P. 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. 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. 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. 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. 790-791.

138 Cal.App.3d 128, 187 Cal.Rptr. 825 (1982), affirmed.

John G. Kester, Washington, D.C., for appellants.

Paul S. Ablon, Beverly Hills, Cal., for appellee.

Justice REHNQUIST delivered the opinion of the Court.

Respondent Shirley Jones brought suit in California Superior Court claiming that she had been libeled in an article written and edited by petitioners in Florida. The article was published in a national magazine with a large circulation in California. Petitioners were served with process by mail in Florida and caused special appearances to be entered on their behalf, moving to quash the service of process for lack of per- sonal 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. The California Court of Appeal reversed, rejecting the suggestion that First Amendment considerations enter into the jurisdictional analysis. We now affirm.

Respondent lives and works in California. She and her husband brought this suit against the National Enquirer, Inc., its local distributing company, and petitioners for libel, invasion of privacy, and intentional infliction of emotional harm.1 The Enquirer is a Florida corporation with its principal place of business in Florida. It publishes a national weekly newspaper with a total circulation of over 5 million. About 600,000 of those copies, almost twice the level of the next highest State, are sold in California.2 Respondent's and her husband's claims were based on an article that appeared in the Enquirer's October 9, 1979 issue. Both the Enquirer and the distributing company answered the complaint and made no objection to the jurisdiction of the California court.

Petitioner South is a reporter employed by the Enquirer. He is a resident of Florida, though he frequently travels to California on business.3 South wrote the first draft of the challenged article, and his byline appeared on it. He did most of his research in Florida, relying on phone calls to sources in California for the information contained in the article.4 Shortly before publication, South called respondent's home and read to her husband a draft of the article so as to elicit his comments upon it. Aside from his frequent trips and phone calls, South has no other relevant contacts with California.

Petitioner Calder is also a Florida resident. He has been to California only twice—once, on a pleasure trip, prior to the publication of the article and once after to testify in an unrelated trial. Calder is president and editor of the Enquirer. He "oversee[s] just about every function of the Enquirer." J.A., at 24. He reviewed and approved the initial evaluation of the subject of the article and edited it in its final form. He also declined to print a retraction requested by respondent. Calder has no other relevant contacts with California.

In considering petitioners' motion to quash service of process, the superior court surmised that the actions of petitioners in Florida, causing injury to respondent in California, would ordinarily be sufficient to support an assertion of jurisdiction over them in California.5 But the court felt that special solicitude was necessary because of the potential "chilling effect" on reporters and editors which would result from requiring them to appear in remote jurisdictions to answer for the content of articles upon which they worked. The court also noted that respondent's rights could be "fully satisfied" in her suit against the publisher without requiring petitioners to appear as parties. The superior court, therefore, granted the motion.

The California Court of Appeal reversed. 138 Cal.App.3d 128, 187 Cal.Rptr. 825 (1982). The court agreed that neither petitioner's contacts with California would be sufficient for an assertion of jurisdiction on a cause of action unrelated to those contacts. See Perkins v. Benguet Mining Co., 342 U.S. 437, 72 S.Ct. 413, 96 L.Ed. 485 (1952) (permitting general jurisdiction where defendant's contacts with the forum were "continuous and systematic"). But the court concluded that a valid basis for jurisdiction existed on the theory that petitioners intended to, and did, cause tortious injury to respondent in California. The fact that the actions causing the effects in California were performed outside the State did not prevent the State from asserting jurisdiction over a cause of action arising out of those effects.6 The court rejected the superior court's conclusion that First Amendment considerations must be weighed in the scale against jurisdiction.

A timely petition for hearing was denied by the Supreme Court of California. J.A., at 122. On petitioners' appeal to this Court, probable jurisdiction was postponed. --- U.S. ----, 103 S.Ct. 1766, 76 L.Ed.2d 341 (1983). We conclude that jurisdiction by appeal does not lie. Kulko v. California, 436 U.S. 84, 90, and n. 4, 98 S.Ct. 1690, 1695, and n. 4, 56 L.Ed.2d 132 (1978).7 Treating the jurisdictional statement as a petition for writ of certiorari, as we are authorized to do, 28 U.S.C. § 2103, we hereby grant the petition.8

The Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution 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.' Milliken v. Meyer, 311 U.S. 457, 463 [61 S.Ct. 339, 342, 85 L.Ed. 278 (1940) ]." International Shoe Co. v. Washington, 326 U.S. 310, 316, 66 S.Ct. 154, 158, 90 L.Ed. 95 (1945). 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 (1977). See also Rush v. Savchuk, 444 U.S. 320, 332, 100 S.Ct. 571, 579, 62 L.Ed.2d 516 (1980). The plaintiff's lack of "contacts" will not defeat otherwise proper jurisdiction, see Keeton v. Hustler Magazine, Inc., --- U.S. ----, ---- - ----, 104 S.Ct. 1473, 1480 - 1482, 78 L.Ed.2d ---- (1984), but they may be so manifold as to permit jurisdiction when it would not exist in their absence. Here, the plaintiff is the focus of the activities of the defendants out of which the suit arises. See McGee v. International Life Ins. Co., 355...

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