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Law School Case Brief

New York Times Co. v. Sullivan - 273 Ala. 656


The scope of substituted service is as broad as the permissible limits of due process.


The newspaper, based in New York, published an advertisement in an attempt to gather support for the civil rights movement in the late 1950s, which stated that students were mistreated by police at an African-American university in Montgomery following a peaceful protest. The Commissioner filed an action asserting libel arising from the advertisement. The newspaper contested personal jurisdiction and asserted that the Commissioner could not maintain an action because he was not personally named in the advertisement. The trial court found that it had personal jurisdiction because the newspaper had agents in the state to collect news, and that the paper solicited advertising and had a circulation in Alabama. The jury found for the Commissioner and awarded him damages.


Does the state trial court have personal jurisdiction?




The state supreme court affirmed the judgment in favor of the Commissioner and the award of damages. The court held the trial court had jurisdiction because the newspaper maintained sufficient contacts with the state to meet the minimal standards for personal jurisdiction, and that the newspaper waived its contest by filing a motion to dismiss on the merits. The court also held that the jury could have linked the police to the Commissioner and found that the article was directed at him as an individual.

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