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Keeton v. Hustler Magazine, Inc.

Supreme Court of the United States
465 U.S. 770 (1984)


Kathy Keeton (plaintiff), a resident of New York, sued Hustler Magazine, Inc. (Hustler) and others (defendants) for libel in the United States District Court for the District of New Hampshire under its diversity jurisdiction. Keeton claims that Hustler committed libel against her in five issues of its magazine published between 1975 and 1976. Keeton has no contacts with the state of New Hampshire other than through a magazine she helps produce. Hustler is a corporation organized under the laws of Ohio, and its principal place of business is in California. Hustler sells between 10,000 and 15,000 copies of its magazine in New Hampshire per month. The district court dismissed the complaint for lack of personal jurisdiction. The court of appeals affirmed on the ground that Keeton lacked sufficient contacts with New Hampshire to justify the state’s personal jurisdiction over Hustler. Further, the court of appeals placed significant weight on the fact that New Hampshire’s six-year statute of limitations for libel made it the only state in which Keeton’s suit could still be brought and that the “single publication rule” meant that, if successful, Keeton would be able to recover for damages suffered in all fifty states. For these reasons, the court of appeals considered personal jurisdiction over Hustler unfair. Keeton petitioned the United States Supreme Court for certiorari, which was granted.

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