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CHRISTIAN v. BARRICADE BOOKS

May 15, 2003

TONYA CHRISTIAN (F.K.A. KASABIAN)
v.
BARRICADE BOOKS, INC.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Paul Barbadoro, Chief Judge.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

Tonya Christian filed this civil action seeking compensatory damages from Barricade Books, Inc. for defamation and invasion of privacy. Barricade moves to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction. (Doc. No. 12). For the reasons set forth below, I grant Barricade's motion.

I. BACKGROUND

Barricade, a New York corporation, conducts its book publishing business principally from offices located in New Jersey. The company has no New Hampshire offices. It does not have any employees or agents who work in the state. Nor does it target New Hampshire in its marketing efforts.

Christian, is a 35 year-old resident of Rochester, New Hampshire. She is the daughter of Linda Kasabian, a one-time follower of Charles Manson who, along other members of Manson's "family," murdered the actress Sharon Tate.

In 1999, Barricade entered into an agreement with Greg King to publish his book, Sharon Tate & the Manson Murders. The book is a biography of Tate which purports to describe the "[s]trange connections between Sharon Tate, the Hollywood elite and Charles Manson's so-called `family'. . . ." Def.'s Mot. to Dismiss. King makes the following statement about Christian in the book's epilogue:

On October 24, 1996, members of the Tacoma, Washington Police Department served a search warrant on the apartment owned by Kasabian's daughter Tanya [sic], known to authorities as "Lady Dangerous." Kasabian, as well as Tonya's two young children, were present when the police arrived. Their report stated: "In the master bedroom (defendant's bedroom) officers located a small baggie containing suspected rock cocaine and a large bundle of cash in a dresser drawer. On top of the dresser was a bunch of baggies. Also in the room officers located a .45 caliber semi-automatic handgun, ammunition, electronic scales, a plate with cocaine residue, and another bundle of cash . . . Tanya [sic], found guilty of possession of controlled substances, was sentenced to a year in state prison.
Christian charges that this statement mistakenly confuses her with her sister, Quanu and is defamatory because she has never been convicted of possession of a controlled substance.

Barricade published approximately 12,500 copies of the Sharon Tate book and sold approximately 8,700 copies. It distributed the book through national book chains, book wholesalers, book jobbers,*fn1 and selected independent book stores. None of the book chains, wholesalers, or jobbers to whom Barricade shipped copies of the book are based in New Hampshire. Barricade did not control the manner in which these businesses attempted to sell the book. Nor did Barricade know where the books were ultimately sold.

Christian has produced affidavits from two people who purchased the Sharon Tate book in New Hampshire. One of the affiants purchased a copy of the book from a Borders book store located in Concord, New Hampshire. The other affiant ordered a copy of the book from the on-line bookseller, Amazon.com. Christian has also established that Barricade shipped one copy of the book to the Dartmouth Book Store, an independent book store located in Hanover, New Hampshire. The store was not able to sell the book, however, and later returned it to Barricade. Aff. of Douglas Rexford, ¶ 2-3; see Ex. 1 to Def.'s Mot. to Dismiss.*fn2 The record is devoid of evidence suggesting that any other copies of the book were actually shipped to or sold in New Hampshire.

II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

When personal jurisdiction is contested, the plaintiff bears the burden of establishing that such jurisdiction exists. See Mass. Sch. of Law at Andover, Inc. v. Am. Bar Ass'n., 142 F.3d 26, 34 (1st Cir. 1998); Ticketmaster-N.Y., Inc. v. Alioto, 26 F.3d 201, 207 n. 9 (1st Cir. 1994). Where, as is the case here, I have not held an evidentiary hearing, a plaintiff need only make a prima facie showing that the court has personal jurisdiction. See Sawtelle v. Farrell, 70 F.3d 1381, 1386 n. 1 (1st Cir. 1995) (citing United Elec., Radio, & Mach. Workers v. 163 Pleasant Street Corp., 987 F.2d 39, 43 (1st Cir. 1993) [hereinafter Pleasant Street. II]).

In meeting the prima facie standard, Christian must submit "evidence that, if credited, is enough to support findings of all facts essential to personal jurisdiction." Boit v. Gar-Tec Prods. Inc., 967 F.2d 671, 675 (1st Cir. 1992); see Pleasant Street. II, 987 F.2d at 44. Christian must not rest on the pleadings. See id. Supporting evidence must be based on evidence of specific facts set forth in the record. See id. I take the specific facts alleged by the plaintiff, both disputed and undisputed, as true and construe them in a light most favorable to the plaintiff's claim. See Mass. Sch. of Law, 142 F.3d at 34; Ticketmaster, 26 F.3d at 203. I also consider facts put forward by Barricade to the extent that they are uncontradicted. See Mass. Sch. of Law, 142 F.3d at 34. While the prima facie standard is a liberal one, the law requires that I not "credit conclusory allegations or draw farfetched inferences." Mass. Sch. of Law, 142 F.3d at 34; (quoting Ticketmaster, 26 F.3d at 203).

III. ANALYSIS

When assessing personal jurisdiction in a diversity of citizenship case, the court "`is the functional equivalent of a state court sitting in the forum state.'" Sawtelle, 70 F.3d at 1387 (quoting Ticketmaster, 26 F.3d at 204). As such, in order for this court to have jurisdiction, I must find that the contacts between Barricade and New Hampshire satisfy both the New Hampshire long-arm statute and the requirements of the Fourteenth Amendment's due process clause. See id. The New Hampshire long-arm statute permits this court to exercise jurisdiction to the full extent permitted under federal due process analysis. See Phelps v. Kingston, 130 N.H. 166, 171 (1987). Accordingly, the ...


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