SW Legal studies in Business

Defendant Must Have Tie to Forum State for Court to Have Jurisdiction in Defamation Case

Appeals court held that a federal district court, in order to have personal jurisdiction over defendant named in a defamation suit, must show that the matter took place in the state in which the court is located or that there is some other specific tie to that state.

Topic Court Procedure
Key Words

Minimum Contacts; Personal Jurisdiction; Defamation

C A S E   S U M M A R Y

Baseball player Roger Clemens moved to Texas at age 15 and, six years later, after playing at the University of Texas, left the state to play professional baseball. When he retired from baseball, he moved back to Texas. Brian McNamee was an athletic trainer who worked with Clemens for several years in the major leagues. He was accused of delivering illegal performance-enhancing drugs to athletes. He was granted immunity from prosecution in return for revealing what he knew. He said he injected Clemens with such drugs for several years. He provided that information to a federal investigation into drug use in baseball. Clemens sued McNamee for defamation in suit filed in Texas state court. McNamee removed the action to federal district court and moved to dismiss the complaint for lack of personal jurisdiction because the focus of McNamee’s statements about Clemens was not Texas. The court dismissed the suit; Clemens appealed.


Affirmed. The allegedly defamatory statements were made in New York to a media reporter and to the commission investigating drug use in baseball. The statements were not aimed at or directed to the forum state, Texas. McNamee, not a resident of Texas, did not have sufficient minimum contacts with the state to confer personal jurisdiction on the federal district court in Texas. The statements concerned drugs allegedly used in New York and Canada. There is no connection to Texas except that Clemens is now a Texas resident. A plaintiff seeking to assert specific personal jurisdiction over a non-resident defendant in a defamation case must show that: 1) the subject matter of, and 2) the sources relied upon for the published information were in the forum state.


Clemens v. McNamee, ---F.3d--- (2010 WL 31755979, 5th Cir., 2010)

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