This case asks us to decide whether a court in Nevada may exercise personal jurisdiction over a defendant on the basis that he knew his allegedly tortious conduct in Georgia would delay the return of funds to plaintiffs with connections to Nevada. Because the defendant had no other contacts with Nevada, and because a plaintiff's contacts with the forum State cannot be "decisive in determining whether the defendant's due process rights are violated," Rush v. Savchuk, 444 U.S. 320, 332, 100 S.Ct. 571, 62 L.Ed.2d 516 (1980), we hold that the court in Nevada may not exercise personal jurisdiction under these circumstances.
Petitioner Anthony Walden serves as a police officer for the city of Covington, Georgia. In August 2006, petitioner was working at the Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson Airport as a deputized agent of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). As part of a task force, petitioner conducted investigative stops and other law enforcement functions in support of the DEA's airport drug interdiction program.
On August 8, 2006, Transportation Security Administration agents searched respondents Gina Fiore and Keith Gipson and their carry-on bags at the San Juan airport in Puerto Rico. They found almost $97,000 in cash. Fiore explained to DEA agents in San Juan that she and Gipson had been gambling at a casino known as the El San Juan, and that they had residences in both California and Nevada (though they provided only California identification). After respondents were cleared for departure, a law enforcement official at the San Juan airport notified petitioner's task force in Atlanta that respondents had boarded a plane for Atlanta, where they planned to catch a connecting flight to Las Vegas, Nevada.
When respondents arrived in Atlanta, petitioner and another DEA agent approached them at the departure gate for their flight to Las Vegas. In response to petitioner's questioning, Fiore explained that she and Gipson were professional gamblers. Respondents maintained that the cash they were carrying was their gambling "`bank'" and winnings. App. 15, 24. After using a drug-sniffing dog to perform a sniff test, petitioner seized the cash.
After respondents departed, petitioner moved the cash to a secure location and the matter was forwarded to DEA headquarters. The next day, petitioner received a phone call from respondents' attorney in Nevada seeking return of the funds. On two occasions over the next month, petitioner also received documentation from the attorney regarding the legitimacy of the funds.
At some point after petitioner seized the cash, he helped draft an affidavit to show probable cause for forfeiture of the funds and forwarded that affidavit to a United States Attorney's Office in Georgia.
Respondents filed suit against petitioner in the United States District Court for the District of Nevada, seeking money damages under Bivens v. Six Unknown Fed. Narcotics Agents, 403 U.S. 388, 91 S.Ct. 1999, 29 L.Ed.2d 619 (1971). Respondents alleged that petitioner violated their Fourth Amendment rights by (1) seizing the cash without probable cause; (2) keeping the money after concluding it did not come from drug-related activity; (3) drafting and forwarding a probable cause affidavit to support a forfeiture action while knowing the affidavit contained false statements; (4) willfully seeking forfeiture while withholding exculpatory information; and (5) withholding that exculpatory information from the United States Attorney's Office.
The District Court granted petitioner's motion to dismiss. Relying on this Court's decision in Calder v. Jones, 465 U.S. 783, 104 S.Ct. 1482, 79 L.Ed.2d 804 (1984), the court determined that petitioner's search of respondents and his seizure of the cash in Georgia did not establish a basis to exercise personal jurisdiction in Nevada. The court concluded that even if petitioner caused harm to respondents in Nevada while knowing they lived in Nevada, that fact alone did not confer jurisdiction. Because the court dismissed the complaint for lack of personal jurisdiction, it did not determine whether venue was proper.
On appeal, a divided panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit reversed. The Court of Appeals assumed the District Court had correctly determined that petitioner's search and seizure in Georgia could not support exercise of jurisdiction in Nevada. The court held, however, that the District Court could properly exercise jurisdiction over "the false probable cause affidavit aspect of the case." 688 F.3d 558, 577 (2011). According to the Court of Appeals, petitioner "expressly aimed" his submission of the allegedly false affidavit at Nevada by submitting the affidavit with knowledge that it would affect persons with a "significant connection" to Nevada.
We granted certiorari to decide whether due process permits a Nevada court to exercise jurisdiction over petitioner. 568 U.S. ___, 133 S.Ct. 1493, 185 L.Ed.2d 547 (2013). We hold that it does not and therefore reverse.
"Federal courts ordinarily follow state law in determining the bounds of their jurisdiction over persons." Daimler AG v. Bauman, 571 U.S. ___, ___, 134 S.Ct. 746, 753, ___ L.Ed.2d ___ (2014). This is because a federal district court's authority to assert personal jurisdiction in most cases is linked to service of process on a defendant "who is subject to the jurisdiction of a court of general jurisdiction in the state where the district court is located." Fed. Rule of Civ. Proc. 4(k)(1)(A). Here, Nevada has authorized its courts to exercise jurisdiction over persons "on any basis not inconsistent with... the Constitution of the United States." Nev.Rev.Stat. § 14.065 (2011). Thus, in order to determine whether the Federal District Court in this case was authorized to exercise jurisdiction over petitioner, we ask whether the exercise of jurisdiction "comports with the limits imposed by federal due process" on the State of Nevada. Daimler, supra, at ___, 134 S.Ct., at 753.
The Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment constrains a State's authority to bind a nonresident defendant to a judgment of its courts. World-Wide Volkswagen Corp. v. Woodson, 444 U.S. 286, 291, 100 S.Ct. 559, 62 L.Ed.2d 490 (1980). Although a nonresident's physical presence within the territorial jurisdiction of the court is not required, the nonresident generally must have "certain minimum contacts ... such that the maintenance of the suit does not offend `traditional notions of fair play and substantial justice.'" International Shoe Co. v. Washington, 326 U.S. 310, 316, 66 S.Ct. 154, 90 S.Ct. 95 (1945) (quoting Milliken v. Meyer, 311 U.S. 457, 463, 61 S.Ct. 339, 85 S.Ct. 278 (1940)).
This case addresses the "minimum contacts" necessary to create specific jurisdiction.
First, the relationship must arise out of contacts that the "defendant himself" creates with the forum State. Burger King Corp. v. Rudzewicz, 471 U.S. 462, 475, 105 S.Ct. 2174, 85 L.Ed.2d 528 (1985). Due process limits on the State's adjudicative authority principally protect the liberty of the nonresident defendant — not the convenience of plaintiffs or third parties. See World-Wide Volkswagen Corp., supra, at 291-292, 100 S.Ct. 559. We have consistently rejected attempts to satisfy the defendant-focused "minimum contacts" inquiry by demonstrating contacts between the plaintiff (or third parties) and the forum State. See Helicopteros Nacionales de Colombia, S.A. v. Hall, 466 U.S. 408, 417, 104 S.Ct. 1868, 80 L.Ed.2d 404 (1984) ("[The] unilateral activity of another party or a third person is not an appropriate consideration when determining whether a defendant has sufficient contacts with a forum State to justify an assertion of jurisdiction"). We have thus rejected a plaintiff's argument that a Florida court could exercise personal jurisdiction over a trustee in Delaware based solely on the contacts of the trust's settlor, who was domiciled in Florida and had executed powers of appointment there. Hanson v. Denckla, 357 U.S. 235, 253-254, 78 S.Ct. 1228, 2 L.Ed.2d 1283 (1958). We have likewise held that Oklahoma courts could not exercise personal jurisdiction over an automobile distributor that supplies New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut dealers based only on an automobile purchaser's act of driving it on Oklahoma highways. World-Wide Volkswagen Corp., supra, at 298, 100 S.Ct. 559. Put simply, however significant the plaintiff's contacts with the forum may be, those contacts cannot be "decisive in determining whether the defendant's due process rights are violated." Rush, 444 U.S., at 332, 100 S.Ct. 571.
Second, our "minimum contacts" analysis looks to the defendant's contacts with the forum State itself, not the defendant's contacts with persons who reside there. See, e.g., International Shoe, supra, at 319, 66 S.Ct. 154 (Due process "does not contemplate that a state may make binding a judgment in personam against an individual ... with which the state has no contacts, ties, or relations"); Hanson, supra, at 251, 78 S.Ct. 1228 ("However minimal the burden of defending in a foreign tribunal, a defendant may not be called upon to do so unless he has had the `minimal contacts' with that State that are a prerequisite to its exercise of power over him"). Accordingly, we have upheld the assertion of jurisdiction over defendants who have purposefully "reach[ed] out beyond" their State and into another by, for example, entering a contractual relationship that "envisioned continuing and wide-reaching contacts" in the forum State, Burger King, supra, at 479-480, 105 S.Ct. 2174, or by circulating magazines to "deliberately exploi[t]" a market in the forum State, Keeton, supra, at 781, 104 S.Ct. 1473. And although physical presence in the forum is not a prerequisite to jurisdiction, Burger King, supra, at 476, 105 S.Ct. 2174, physical entry into the State — either by the defendant in person or through an agent, goods, mail, or some other means — is certainly a relevant contact. See, e.g., Keeton, supra, at 773-774, 104 S.Ct. 1473.
But the plaintiff cannot be the only link between the defendant and the forum. Rather, it is the defendant's conduct that must form the necessary connection with the forum State that is the basis for its jurisdiction over him. See Burger King, supra, at 478, 105 S.Ct. 2174 ("If the question is whether an individual's contract
These same principles apply when intentional torts are involved. In that context, it is likewise insufficient to rely on a defendant's "random, fortuitous, or attenuated contacts" or on the "unilateral activity" of a plaintiff. Ibid. (same). A forum State's exercise of jurisdiction over an out-of-state intentional tortfeasor must be based on intentional conduct by the defendant that creates the necessary contacts with the forum.
Calder v. Jones, 465 U.S. 783, 104 S.Ct. 1482, 79 L.Ed.2d 804, illustrates the application of these principles. In Calder, a California actress brought a libel suit in California state court against a reporter and an editor, both of whom worked for the National Enquirer at its headquarters in Florida. The plaintiff's libel claims were based on an article written and edited by the defendants in Florida for publication in the National Enquirer, a national weekly newspaper with a California circulation of roughly 600,000.
We held that California's assertion of jurisdiction over the defendants was consistent with due process. Although we recognized that the defendants' activities "focus[ed]" on the plaintiff, our jurisdictional inquiry "focuse[d] on `the relationship among the defendant, the forum, and the litigation.'" Id., at 788, 104 S.Ct. 1482 (quoting Shaffer, 433 U.S., at 204, 97 S.Ct. 2569). Specifically, we examined the various contacts the defendants had created with California (and not just with the plaintiff) by writing the allegedly libelous story.
We found those forum contacts to be ample: The defendants relied on phone calls to "California sources" for the information in their article; they wrote the story about the plaintiff's activities in California; they caused reputational injury in California by writing an allegedly libelous article that was widely circulated in the State; and the "brunt" of that injury was suffered by the plaintiff in that State. 465 U.S., at 788-789, 104 S.Ct. 1482. "In sum, California [wa]s the focal point both of the story and of the harm suffered." Id., at 789, 104 S.Ct. 1482. Jurisdiction over the defendants was "therefore proper in California based on the `effects' of their Florida conduct in California." Ibid.
The crux of Calder was that the reputation-based "effects" of the alleged libel
Applying the foregoing principles, we conclude that petitioner lacks the "minimal contacts" with Nevada that are a prerequisite to the exercise of jurisdiction over him. Hanson, 357 U.S., at 251, 78 S.Ct. 1228. It is undisputed that no part of petitioner's course of conduct occurred in Nevada. Petitioner approached, questioned, and searched respondents, and seized the cash at issue, in the Atlanta airport. It is alleged that petitioner later helped draft a "false probable cause affidavit" in Georgia and forwarded that affidavit to a United States Attorney's Office in Georgia to support a potential action for forfeiture of the seized funds. 688 F.3d, at 563. Petitioner never traveled to, conducted activities within, contacted anyone in, or sent anything or anyone to Nevada. In short, when viewed through the proper lens — whether the defendant's actions connect him to the forum — petitioner formed no jurisdictionally relevant contacts with Nevada.
The Court of Appeals reached a contrary conclusion by shifting the analytical focus from petitioner's contacts with the forum to his contacts with respondents. See Rush, 444 U.S., at 332, 100 S.Ct. 571. Rather than assessing petitioner's own contacts with Nevada, the Court of Appeals looked to petitioner's knowledge of respondents'"strong forum connections." 688 F.3d, at 577-579, 581. In the court's view, that knowledge, combined with its conclusion that respondents suffered foreseeable harm in Nevada, satisfied the "minimum contacts" inquiry.
Relying on Calder, respondents emphasize that they suffered the "injury" caused by petitioner's allegedly tortious conduct (i.e., the delayed return of their gambling funds) while they were residing in the forum. Brief for Respondents 14. This emphasis is likewise misplaced. As previously noted, Calder made clear that mere injury to a forum resident is not a sufficient connection to the forum. Regardless of where a plaintiff lives or works, an injury is jurisdictionally relevant only insofar as it shows that the defendant has formed a contact with the forum State. The proper question is not where the plaintiff experienced a particular injury or effect but whether the defendant's conduct connects him to the forum in a meaningful way.
Respondents' claimed injury does not evince a connection between petitioner and Nevada. Even if we consider the continuation of the seizure in Georgia to be a distinct injury, it is not the sort of effect that is tethered to Nevada in any meaningful way. Respondents (and only respondents) lacked access to their funds in Nevada not because anything independently occurred there, but because Nevada is where respondents chose to be at a time when they desired to use the funds seized by petitioner. Respondents would have experienced this same lack of access in California, Mississippi, or wherever else they might have traveled and found themselves wanting more money than they had. Unlike the broad publication of the forumfocused story in Calder, the effects of petitioner's conduct on respondents are not connected to the forum State in a way that makes those effects a proper basis for jurisdiction.
The Court of Appeals pointed to other possible contacts with Nevada, each ultimately unavailing. Respondents' Nevada attorney contacted petitioner in Georgia, but that is precisely the sort of "unilateral activity" of a third party that "cannot satisfy the requirement of contact with the forum State." Hanson, 357 U.S., at 253, 78 S.Ct. 1228. Respondents allege that
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Well-established principles of personal jurisdiction are sufficient to decide this case. The proper focus of the "minimum contacts" inquiry in intentional-tort cases is "`the relationship among the defendant, the forum, and the litigation.'" Calder, 465 U.S., at 788, 104 S.Ct. 1482. And it is the defendant, not the plaintiff or third parties, who must create contacts with the forum State. In this case, the application of those principles is clear: Petitioner's relevant conduct occurred entirely in Georgia, and the mere fact that his conduct affected plaintiffs with connections to the forum State does not suffice to authorize jurisdiction. We therefore reverse the judgment of the Court of Appeals.
It is so ordered.