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.
The California resident brought a libel action against a national magazine based in Florida and against its reporter and magazine's editor, individually. Both reporter and magazine’s editor were served by mail in Florida. They both moved to quash service for lack of personal jurisdiction. The lower court granted the motion. On appeal, the state appellate court reversed the lower court order and found jurisdiction. The case was elevated to the Supreme Court of the United States on appeal.
Can California exercise jurisdiction over the case?
The Supreme Court held that jurisdiction was proper based upon the effects of their intentional conduct in California. Respondent's career was centered in California, the article was drawn from California sources, and the harm was suffered in California. The Supreme Court noted that petitioners were not charged with untargeted negligence, but rather their intentional, and allegedly tortious, actions were expressly aimed at California, and under the circumstances, petitioners must have reasonably anticipated being sued there. The Supreme Court held that petitioners' status as employees did not shield them from jurisdiction, because their individual contacts with California were sufficient.