Calder v. Jones, 465 U.S. 783 (1984) (full-text).
The plaintiff, actress Shirley Jones, sued the defendants, the National Enquirer, its distributor, the writer of the article, and Calder, the editor-in-chief of the magazine, over an article in which the Enquirer alleged that Jones was an alcoholic. Jones lived in California, and although the Enquirer article had been written and edited in Florida, Jones filed suit in a California state court. Jones asserted that the court had jurisdiction based on the large circulation Enquirer enjoyed in California — selling over 600,000 copies each week out of a total national circulation of about 5,000,000 copies per week.
The publisher and distributor did not object to jurisdiction in California. The trial court dismissed the claim as to the author and editor on the grounds that it lacked personal jurisdiction over them, basing its finding on First Amendment concerns that permitting jurisdiction in such cases would chill free speech.
The California Court of Appeal reversed, and the California Supreme Court upheld the appellate court. Calder appealed, as did the writer of the article, contending that the writer and editor of a magazine article were like welders of a boiler part. In such a case, although the manufacturer of the product could be held liable in another state where the product caused an injury, a worker who had neither a stake in the distribution nor any control over it would not be held liable in that state.
U.S. Supreme Court Proceedings
The issue presented to the U.S. Supreme Court was whether the sale of a magazine article provided sufficient minimum contacts to permit the assertion of personal jurisdiction over the editor of that article, pursuant to the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.
The Court, in a unanimous opinion written by Justice Rehnquist, held that the California courts did have jurisdiction over the defendant.
|“||The allegedly libelous story concerned the California activities of a California resident. It impugned the professionalism of an entertainer whose television career was centered in California . . . and the brunt of the harm, in terms both of [Jones's] emotional distress and the injury to her professional reputation, was suffered in California.||”|
The court also noted that the individual defendants wrote or edited "an article that they knew would have a potentially devastating impact upon [Jones]. And they knew that the brunt of that injury would be felt by [Jones] in the State in which she lives and works and in which the National Enquirer has its largest circulation."
The Court also rejected any First Amendment considerations, noting that the defendants could assert a First Amendment defense against the claim itself, but not against the jurisdiction of the state court to hear the claim.
The test that arose from this case is called the "effects test."
- Id. at 788-89 (footnote omitted).
- Id. at 789-90.
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