Keeton v. Hustler Magazine, Inc.

465 U.S. 770 (1984)

A 1984 United States Supreme Court opinion in the area of civil procedure/personal jurisdiction.

Keeton sued Hustler Magazine in a federal court in New Hampshire for libel.  The magazine had circulated in the forum state copies of the magazine with the alleged libelous material and it had also circulated other issues of the magazine in a continuous and systematic fashion.

Thus, this case presented the scenario where the non-resident defendant had contacts with the forum state related to and unrelated to the controversy.

Without deciding the issue of whether the related or unrelated contacts would alone be sufficient to support personal jurisdiction, the Court held that the aggregate of Hustler Magazine’s contacts with New Hampshire were sufficient for the courts located therein to exercise jurisdiction over the Magazine in the case presented.

Reference Desk:


In Keeton, the Court held that a nonresident publisher that regularly sold a substantial number of magazines in New Hampshire could be sued for libel there, even though the plaintiff herself was not a resident of the State. 465 U.S. 770, 780-81. “In judging minimum contacts,” it said (repeating what it had also said in Calder, 465 U.S. at 788), “a court properly focuses on `the relationship among the defendant, the forum, and the litigation.'” 775 (quoting Shaffer v. Heitner, 433 U.S. 186, 204 (1977)). Noting that “[t]he tort of libel is generally held to occur wherever the offending material is circulated,” id. at 777, the Court held that a defendant that “continuously and deliberately exploited the New Hampshire market . . . must reasonably anticipate being haled into court there in a libel action based on the contents of its magazine.” 781. As in Calder, the Court focused on the relationship of the defendant to the forum State.7 The defendant itself had sold and distributed its magazines containing the alleged libel in New Hampshire, establishing the necessary “minimum contacts” with the State to support the exercise of jurisdiction. Int’l Shoe, 326 U.S. at 316.

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