A Discussion of the Supreme Court Case Concerning Jurisdiction
The National Enquirer, Inc. is a Florida corporation with its principal place of business in Florida. It publishes the National Enquirer, a national weekly newspaper with a total circulation of more than 5 million copies. About 600,000 copies, almost twice the level in the next highest state, are sold in California. The National Enquirer published an article about Shirley Jones, an entertainer. Jones, a California resident, filed a lawsuit in California state court against the National Enquirer and its president, who was a resident of Florida. The California lawsuit sought damages for alleged defamation, invasion of privacy, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Calder v. Jones, 465 U.S. 783, 104 S.Ct. 1482, 79 L.Ed.2d 804, Web 1984 U.S. Lexis 4 (Supreme Court of the United States).
The National Enquirer is an American supermarket tabloid. Tabloids of this nature are well-known for publishing exaggerations, celebrity gossip, and false news stories. The primary subject matter of these types of tabloids is celebrity gossip and rumors. Although there have been recent attempts by the National Enquirer to become a more reputable source for news there still remains a long history of lawsuits and libel accusations.
It was not an unethical matter when the National Enquirer attempted to avoid suit in California because it was a jurisdiction matter. Lawsuits must be filed in proper jurisdictions otherwise the legal system would fall into chaos. Without personal jurisdiction individuals would be able to file suits anywhere at any time and there would be no means to interpret these civil suits. The law states, “…a state court may only exert personal jurisdiction over an individual or entity with “sufficient minimal contacts” with the forum state such that the particular suit “does not offend ‘traditional notions of fair play and justice’” (Shoe Co. v. Washington). This ruling gives the Enquirer the right to challenge the jurisdiction in California and makes it ethical in nature.
The Supreme Court ruled that California did maintain personal jurisdiction over the defendants. This ruling was based on the evidence that there was a large enough circulation of the Enquirer in California which gave sufficient minimal contacts to apply jurisdiction. Justice Rehnquist stated, “…petitioners are not charged with mere untargeted negligence. Rather, their intentional, and allegedly tortious, actions were expressly aimed at California” (Calder v. Jones). Due to this action the defendants could be sued in California because the defamation happened in California where Shirley Jones worked and reputation was strong in the entertainment field.
Calder v. Jones, 465 U.S. 783 (1984)
International Shoe Co. v. Washington, 326 U.S. 310, 316