Personal Jurisdiction

Service of Process, 2.0

The judicial system in the United States has kept up with technological change in many ways. We have electronic filing, websites for federal courts, and Internet streaming court coverage. But there is one way that courts have not been as quick to adapt electronically – service of process.

Jurisdiction: 

Subject Area: 

Content Type: 

First Amendment Alert! Author arrested for writing a book

I'm the first to admit that Phillip Greaves is not the most sympathetic figure in America. Greaves wrote "The Pedophile's Guide," which was originally for sale on Amazon.com before the online retailer bowed to public pressure and pulled the book from its online shelves.

I don't necessarily have a problem with that.

But, I have a big problem with today's developments. The Orlando Sentinel reports that Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd had Mr. Greaves arrested in Pueblo, Colorado on obscenity charges.

Lets remember that Grady Judd's jurisdiction is home to meth labs, cops who diddle children, and a pretty high incest rate.

Despite the "real crime" in his jurisdiction, Judd instructed his detectives to request an autographed copy of the book. Mr. Greaves obliged and Judd used that as his justification for having Greaves indicted on obscenity charges in his little caliphate of inbred-methistan.

Greaves told ABC News last month he wasn't trying to promote pedophilia and was not himself a pedophile: "I'm not saying I want them around children, I'm saying if they're there, that's how I want them to [behave]." (source)

Jurisdiction: 

Subject Area: 

Content Type: 

Vision Media TV Group v. Forte

Date: 

03/09/2009

Threat Type: 

Lawsuit

Party Receiving Legal Threat: 

Julia Forte; Julia Forte d/b/a www.800Notes.com Advent LLC

Type of Party: 

Organization

Type of Party: 

Individual
Organization

Court Type: 

Federal

Court Name: 

United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida

Case Number: 

9:09-cv-80396

Legal Counsel: 

Paul Alan Levy, Deepak Gupta - Public Citizen Litigation Group; Judith M. Mercier - Holland & Knight, LLP

Publication Medium: 

Forum

Relevant Documents: 

Status: 

Pending

Description: 

In February 2009, Vision Media TV, a company that makes video segments that advertise nonprofit companies, sued Julia Forte, who runs the website 800Notes, a forum site on which members of the public can discuss telemarketing companies and practices. Vision Media filed suit in federal district court in Florida after Forte refused to identify users who posted critical comments about the company and to remove the postings. The complaint, which has been amended several times, currently includes claims for libel, trademark dilution under Florida law, and "defamation by implication."

In January 2010, Forte moved to dismiss the complaint, or alternatively for summary judgment.  She argued, among other things, that the court lacked personal jurisdiction over her, and that Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act immunized her for publishing the statements of her users.  In an unusual move, Vision Media TV moved to strike Forte's motion to dismiss because her counsel posted the motion papers on the Public Citizen Litigation Group website. 

Update:

1/27/10 - Forte filed an Opposition to Motion to Strike and for Gag Order.

2/04/10 - The Court denied the Motion to Strike. 

Content Type: 

Subject Area: 

Priority: 

1-High

CMLP Notes: 

2/19/10 -AVM added motion to strike denial

Jurisdiction: 

Abshire v. Pearl

Date: 

01/01/2006

Threat Type: 

Lawsuit

Party Receiving Legal Threat: 

David Pearl

Type of Party: 

Individual

Type of Party: 

Individual

Court Type: 

State

Court Name: 

67th District Court of Tarrant County (Texas); Second District Court of Appeals (Texas)

Case Number: 

67-222495-07 (trial level); 02-08-00286-CV (appellate level)

Legal Counsel: 

Gregory S. Gober

Publication Medium: 

Forum

Relevant Documents: 

Status: 

Concluded

Disposition: 

Dismissed (total)

Description: 

Dale Abshire filed a lawsuit in a Texas state court against David Pearl after Pearl posted a series of allegedly defamatory responses on the Yahoo! Finance AXA Internet message board in response to Abshire's posts. According to the appellate decision in the case, Pearl's post cited sexual harassment as a reason for Abshire's termination from his previous employment.

Pearl moved to dismiss the lawsuit, arguing that the court had no personal jurisdiction over him because he resided in New York and had no ties with Texas other than mentioning it in his message board posting.  The trial court denied the motion, and Pearl appealed.

A Texas appellate court reversed the lower court decision and dismissed the case, ruling that Pearl had not "purposefully availed" himself of the privilege of conducting activities in Texas. Rather, the court found that "Pearl's internet connections with Texas were in fortuitous in response to the postings of a Texas resident, Abshire."

CMLP Notes: 

Priority: 

1-High

Subject Area: 

Jurisdiction: 

Content Type: 

Park West Galleries v. Fine Art Registry

Date: 

03/04/2008

Threat Type: 

Lawsuit

Party Receiving Legal Threat: 

Fine Art Registry; Bruce Hochman; Theresa Franks; David Phillips

Type of Party: 

Organization

Type of Party: 

Individual
Organization

Court Type: 

Federal

Court Name: 

United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan

Case Number: 

2:08-CV-12247

Legal Counsel: 

Ralph C. Chapa, Jr., Lawrence C. Atorthy - Kaufman & Payton (for Defendants Fine Art Registry, Franks, and Phillips); Ian C. Simpson - Garan Lucow (for Defendant Hochman)

Publication Medium: 

Website

Relevant Documents: 

Status: 

Pending

Disposition: 

Dismissed (partial)

Description: 

Park West Galleries (PWG), an art gallery that also performs auctions on cruise ships, sued Fine Art Registry (FAR), an organization that, according to The Art Newspaper, offers “advocacy to victims of art fraud and abuse” including a system of tagging and registering art, along with Theresa Franks, CEO and founder of FAR, and Bruce Hochman, Gallery Director for the Salvador Dali Gallery in San Juan and art expert for FAR.  (Compl. ¶¶ 2-3, 5-6.) 

According to the complaint, FAR, Franks, and Hochman allegedly orchestrated an eleven-month "smear campaign" through the FAR website, making "false and defamatory statements" about PWG in an "attempt[] to destroy Park West's goodwill and reputation."  (Compl. ¶¶ 4, 7, 24.)  Specifically, PWG complains that FAR, Franks, and Hochman have falsely accused it of selling fake artwork during its "at-sea" auctions.  (Compl. ¶25-33.)  PWG is seeking monetary damages and a permanent injunction barring FAR, Franks, and Hochman from making any further defamatory statements.

Shortly after this suit began, PWG brought a similar suit against David Phillips, who participated in an allegedly defamatory interview with Hochman that was posted to FAR's website.  In March, 2009, the court consolidated the two cases.

The court denied Hochman's motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction or forum non conveniens and improper venue.  FAR and Franks also filed a motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction and/or improper venue.  The court found that jurisdiction was proper over FAR, but not Franks, and dismissed Franks from the lawsuit.  It denied the request to change venue.

In May 2009, FAR and Phillips filed a counterclaim against PWG, accusing it of a "concerted effort to defame, smear, and destroy the business and personal reputations of F[AR] and P[hillips]."  (Counterclaim ¶ 12.)  The counterclaim includes counts of defamation, tortious interference, interference with prospective business advantage, trademark infringement under the Lanham Act, and conspiracy.  FAR and Phillips are seeking actual and punitive damages.

The court has yet to rule on PWG's motion to dismiss FAR's and Phillips' counterclaim.

Update:

02/26/2010 - The court granted in part and denied in part the motions for summary judgment filed by Global Fine Art Registry, David Charles Phillips, Theresa Franks, and Bruce Hochman and The Salvador Dali Gallery. Among other rulings, the court determined that posting allegedly defamatory statements under a pseudonym triggered a longer statute of limitations period applicable to "fraudulent concealment."

Content Type: 

Priority: 

1-High

Jurisdiction: 

Subject Area: 

Sethi v. TechCrunch

Threat Type: 

Lawsuit

Date: 

06/28/2009

Party Receiving Legal Threat: 

TechCrunch; Michael Arrington

Type of Party: 

Individual

Type of Party: 

Individual
Organization

Court Type: 

International

Publication Medium: 

Blog

Status: 

Pending

Description: 

On February 19, 2009, lawyers representing Sam Sethi, a former employee of TechCrunch and former CEO of now-defunct BlogNation, sent a letter to TechCrunch co-founder Michael Arrington threatening suit "within the jurisdiction of the High Court of England and Wales, at the Royal Courts of Justice (in London, UK)" for libel. 

The basis for the suit is a series of allegedly defamatory posts on CrunchNotes (the TechCrunch blog) which stated, according to the letter, that:

  • "[S]ome of [Sethi's] former writers have accused him of fraud and other crimes."
  • Sethi "had threatened to kill" one of his former business associates.
  • Sethi was "involved in '. . . usury, fraud even'" (quoting from a blog post by Oliver Starr).
  • Sethi is "predisposed to making threats of violence and making others feel threatened by him and being thoroughly deceitful."

Sethi is also suing based upon the "posting [of] a confidential (and stolen) termsheet from [BlogNations'] VC funders," which, according to Sethi's lawyers, "seriously jeopardize[d]" the BlogNation's funding.  Sethi is asking TechCrunch to remove all posts that include allegedly false accusations about him, publish an apology, undertake "not to repeat the same or similar libels again," pay his legal costs, and donate damages to a charity or "towards fees of those unpaid editors at Blognation who had remained faithful to the end."

Michael Arrington replied to Sethi's letter through his lawyers, asserting that TechCrunch is "not susceptible to the jurisdiction of English courts" and that an English judgment would not be recognized or enforced by US courts.  He also provided evidence, mostly in the form of blog posts and comments by others, that he believes supports the veracity of the statements made in the CrunchNotes posts at issue.  TechCrunch has also offered Sethi the opportunity to submit a reply "concerning the challenged statements" that would be posted "with equal prominence to [TechCrunch's] previous posts about him."

According to TechCrunch, a lawsuit was filed on June 28, 2009. Based on third party reports, the lawsuit appears to have been filed in the United Kingdom.

Subject Area: 

Content Type: 

Jurisdiction: 

CMLP Notes: 

07/07/2009 - LB editing; cannot find court information or documents

Priority: 

1-High

Young v. New Haven Advocate

Date: 

05/12/2000

Threat Type: 

Lawsuit

Party Receiving Legal Threat: 

The New Haven Advocate; Gail Thompson; Camille Jackson; Michael Lawlor; Carolyn Nah; National Association for the Advancement of Colored People; Alvin Penn; The Hartford Courant; Brian Toolan; Amy Pagnozzi; The Connecticut Post; Rick Sawyers; Ken Dixon

Type of Party: 

Individual

Type of Party: 

Individual
Large Organization
Media Company

Court Type: 

Federal

Court Name: 

United States District Court for the Western District of Virginia; US Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit

Case Number: 

2:00-cv-00086 (W.D.Va.); No. 01-2340 (4th Cir.)

Legal Counsel: 

Robert Douglass Lystad – Baker & Hostetler, LLP

Publication Medium: 

Website

Relevant Documents: 

Status: 

Concluded

Disposition: 

Dismissed (total)

Description: 

The warden of a Virginia prison sued two Connecticut newspapers for libel in a Virginia court, asserting that they published defamatory articles about him on their websites. In his complaint, Young asserted the newspapers implied he was racist and that he encouraged guards to abuse inmates. Compl. ¶ 7.

On Oct. 4, 2000, the New Haven Advocate and the Hartford Courant filed motions to dismiss the suit on the grounds that a Virginia court cannot exercise personal jurisdiction over Connecticut newspapers. The United States District Court for the Western District of Virginia denied the motion, stating the court could exercise jurisdiciton under Virginia law because the "defendants' Connecticut-based Internet activities constituted an act leading to an injury to the plaintiff in Virginia."

The newspapers appealed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, which reversed the lower court's decision. In its opinion, the court said the Connecticut newspapers could not constitutionally be subject to jurisdiction in a Virginia court because "they did not manifest an intent to aim their websites or the posted articles at a Virginia audience."

The United States Supreme Court declined to hear Young's appeal on May 19, 2003.

CMLP Notes: 

Source: Westclip

PACER doesn't have the documents.  Some are available on Westlaw at 315 F.3d 256 (click Full History for others)

CMF - 6/2/09

Priority: 

1-High

Subject Area: 

Jurisdiction: 

Content Type: 

Knight-McConnell v. Cummins

Threat Type: 

Lawsuit

Date: 

07/07/2003

Party Receiving Legal Threat: 

Mary Cummins

Type of Party: 

Individual

Type of Party: 

Individual

Court Type: 

Federal

Court Name: 

United States District Court for the Southern District of New York

Case Number: 

1:03-cv-05035

Legal Counsel: 

Mary Cummins (Pro Se)

Publication Medium: 

Forum
Website

Relevant Documents: 

Status: 

Concluded

Disposition: 

Dismissed (total)

Description: 

On July 7, 2003, Kathy Knight-McConnell sued Mary Cummins for securities law violations, trademark infringement, defamation, and other claims in federal court in New York.  At the time of the litigation, Knight-McConnell ran a forum for investor discussions and published a newsletter on various stocks.  According to a court decision in the case, Cummins, a stock trader from California, posted statements on website discussion groups and on her own website describing Knight-McConnell as a securities fraud "criminal," "insane," "paid to lie to investors," and "obese," among other things.  

In addition, Knight-McConnell alleged that Cummins intentionally maligned certain stocks that she promoted in order to drive their price down in violation of the securities laws.  Knight-McConnell also claimed that Cummins violated trademark law by linking to Knight-McConnell's website without permission, using Knight-McConnell's name in the post-domain path of URLs for seven of her web-pages, and posting liniks on Internet chat forums and discussion boards directing users to visit these pages."  

In a July 2004 opinion, Judge Buchwald dismissed the securities and trademark claims.  The court indicated that Knight-McConnell had no standing to bring a securities law claim because she did not allege that she purchased or sold the stocks in question in reliance on any statement by Cummins.  The court dismissed the trademark claim because linking to Knight-McConnell's site without permission was not likely to cause confusion as a matter of law:

Even if we assume that plaintiff's name is a valid and protectible mark, plaintiff has not alleged that the defendant engaged in any conduct that is likely to cause confusion as to the origin of the defendant's website.  The mere appearance on a website of a hyperlink to another site will not lead a web-user to conclude that the owner of the site he is visiting is associated with the owner of the linked site.  This is particularly true in this case because defendant's website advertises real estate and web design services, not investment services, and defendant is continuously dissassociating herself from plaintiff by criticizing her and accusing her of misconduct.

Judge Buchwald also determined that using Knight-McConnell's name in URL paths was not likely to cause confusion as a matter of law because a URL "merely shows how the website's data is organized within the host computer's files" and does not suggest affiliation, source, or sponsorship.

Looking at Knight-McConnell's many state law claims, Judge Buchwald determined that the complaint likely stated a cause of action for defamation, but that a defamation claim was not sufficient to confer personal jurisdiction on the court.  Buchwald indicated that Knight-McConnell's tortious interference with contract claim might be sufficient to establish jurisdiction under New York's long-arm statute, but that Knight-McConnell had failed to adequately plead this cause of action.  The court dismissed the complaint without prejudice and granted Knight-McConnell permission to amend her complaint.

Knight-McConnell amended her complaint, but, upon a renewed motion by Cummins, Judge Buchwald dismissed the case for lack of personal jurisdiction in June 2005.  

CMLP Notes: 

Source: LexisNexis

Documents not available on PACER.  Order granting defendant's motion to dismiss on Lexis as 2005 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 11577.

RPK

Content Type: 

Priority: 

1-High

Jurisdiction: 

Subject Area: 

Mitan v. Davis

Date: 

02/20/2008

Threat Type: 

Lawsuit

Party Receiving Legal Threat: 

Emory Davis; Carol Davis; Vitramax Group, Inc.; Ronald Rash; Achim Neumann; Dwight McNeil; Craig Cullinane; Linda Cullinane; Thomas F. Cullinane, Jr.

Type of Party: 

Individual

Type of Party: 

Individual
Organization

Court Type: 

Federal

Court Name: 

United States District Court for the Western District of Kentucky

Case Number: 

3:08-CV-117-S

Legal Counsel: 

J. Fox DeMoisey and Jonathan E. Breitenstein - DeMoisey Law Office, PLLC (for Emory M. Davis, Carol C. Davis, and Vitramax Group, Inc.); Sandra Finley Keene (for Ronald Rash); Louis Barbone - Jacobs & Barbone (for Linda, Thomas & Craig Cullinane)

Publication Medium: 

Print
Website

Relevant Documents: 

Status: 

Pending

Disposition: 

Dismissed (partial)

Description: 

On February 20th, 2008, the Mitans filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Kentucky against eight individuals located throughout the U.S. and Vitramax Group, Inc., alleging libel and slander.  The Mitans' complaint claims that Emory and Carol Davis created a website called the "Mitan Alert" in October of 1999, and that a U.S. Bankruptcy Court previously found the website to be defamatory and ordered them "to cease and desist publication of the website, to remove it from viewing on the Internet, and never to publish the website again." 

The complaint further alleges that the Davises sent printed pages of the website to the other defendants via fascimile, and that the other defendants then transmitted those printed pages to third parties.  The Mitans do not identify any specific allegedly defamatory statements, but allege that the web pages "tend to prejudice [them] in their trade, calling and/or profession since the information damages [their] reputation for honesty, integrity, and morality."

Ronald Rash, Achim Neumann, Craig Cullinane, Linda Cullinane, and Thomas F. Cullinane, Jr., submitted motions to dismiss the complaint based on lack of personal jurisdiction. The Cullinanes also argued that section 230 of the Communications Decency Act barred the claims against them because the Mitans only alleged that they "received, faxed or discussed or discussed the content of a website that [they] did not author, edit or create."

The court granted the motions to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction, finding that Rash, Neumann, and the Cullinanes did not have sufficient minimum contacts with Kentucky.  The court rejected the Mitans' argument that receiving information from Kentucky was sufficient to confer jurisdiction.  The court did not reach the Cullinanes' section 230 argument.

The case is ongoing against Carol and Emory Davis and Vitramax. They filed an answer and counterclaims alleging abuse of process in June 2008.

CMLP Notes: 

The complaint notes that "Mitan Alert" previously was found to be defamatory in U.S. Bankruptcy Court.  Whoever edits this entry should hunt down that case and add it as an additional threat entry.  {MCS}

 

RP--I have a ton of docs to up load next week.

Mitan
v. Davis
Slip
Copy, 2008 WL 5233188
W.D.Ky.,2008.
December 15, 2008 (Approx. 1 page)

In re
Davis
347 B.R.
607
W.D.Ky.,2006.
August 14, 2006 (Approx. 10 pages)

In re
Davis
334 B.R.
874
Bkrtcy.W.D.Ky.,2005.
December 07, 2005 (Approx. 20
pages)

Mitan
v. Davis
243
F.Supp.2d 719
W.D.Ky.,2003.
February 03, 2003 (Approx. 5 pages)

In re
Emory M DAVIS, Carol C Davis, Debtor(s).
2003 WL
25759801
United
States Bankruptcy Court, W.D. Kentucky.
Trial Filing (Approx. 2 pages)

In re
Mitan
178
Fed.Appx. 503
C.A.6 (Mich.),2006.
April 27, 2006 (Approx. 6
pages)

In re
Mitan
371 B.R.
244
E.D.Mich.,2007.
June 04, 2007 (Approx. 5 pages)

U.S.
v. Mitan
Slip
Copy, 2009 WL 604695
E.D.Pa.,2009.
March 06, 2009 (Approx. 10 pages)

 

Content Type: 

Priority: 

1-High

Threat Source: 

Westlaw Alert

Jurisdiction: 

Subject Area: 

Gorman v. Jacobs

Date: 

05/05/2008

Threat Type: 

Lawsuit

Party Receiving Legal Threat: 

Allen Jacobs; John Levin; Richard Benjamin

Type of Party: 

Individual

Type of Party: 

Individual

Court Type: 

Federal

Court Name: 

United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania

Case Number: 

Civ. No. 08-2097

Legal Counsel: 

Chilton G. Goebel, III - German, Gallagher & Murtagh (for Jacobs); William F. Conway - Swartz Campell LLC (for Levin); Thomas P. Bracaglia - Marshall Dennehey Warner Coleman Goggin (for Benjamin)

Publication Medium: 

Forum

Relevant Documents: 

Status: 

Pending

Disposition: 

Dismissed (total)

Description: 

Jack Gorman, a doctor of podiatric medicine, sued fellow podiatrists Allen Jacobs, John Levin, and Richard Benjamin for defamation and other tort claims based on comments they wrote on Podiatry Management Online's news forum, PM News "The Voice of Podiatrists".  The comments related to an article published in the Malpractice News section of PM News, which addressed malpractice insurance rates and contained quotes from an interview with Gorman.  According to court documents, two of the defendants' comments criticized Gorman's work as an expert for plaintiffs' lawyers in malpractice cases and another generally advocated reporting outrageous expert testimony to ethical authorities for investigation.  

Gorman inititally filed three separate lawsuits against Jacobs, Levin, and Benjamin, but the federal district court in Pennsylvania consolidated the cases.  The defendants all filed motions to dismiss the complaint for lack of personal jurisdiction and failure to state a claim.  In February 2009, the court granted the motions to dismiss, holding that it lacked personal jurisdiction over the defendants because they had not expressly aimed their comments into Pennsylvania.

CMLP Notes: 

check for appeal.

Content Type: 

Priority: 

1-High

Threat Source: 

Westlaw Alert

Jurisdiction: 

Subject Area: 

Oxford Round Table, Inc. v. Mahone

Threat Type: 

Lawsuit

Date: 

06/25/2007

Party Receiving Legal Threat: 

Sloan Mahone

Type of Party: 

Organization

Type of Party: 

Individual

Court Type: 

Federal

Court Name: 

United States District Court for the Western District of Kentucky

Case Number: 

3:07CV-330-H

Legal Counsel: 

Charles W. Chapman; Rodger W. Lofton

Publication Medium: 

Email
Forum

Relevant Documents: 

Status: 

Concluded

Disposition: 

Dismissed (total)

Description: 

Oxford Round Table, Inc. ("ORT"), a Kentucky corporation that conducts educational conferences at various colleges within Oxford University, sued Oxford lecturer Sloan Mahone for defamation and tortious interference in federal court in Kentucky.  ORT claimed that Mahone posted defamatory statements on a forum on The Chronicle of Higher Education website.  According to court documents, in these postings Mahone criticized ORT's business operations, calling it a "scam" and a "misrepresentation."  Also, Mahone allegedly sent critical emails to a colleague at Oxford and a prospective participant in one of ORT's conferences. 

After ORT filed suit, Mahone moved to dismiss the complaint for lack of personal jurisdiction.  The court granted the motion, finding that Mahone lacked the requisite minimum contacts with the State of Kentucky.

Content Type: 

Jurisdiction: 

Threat Source: 

User Submission Form

Subject Area: 

Dynacq International, Inc. v. Yahoo! Inc.

Threat Type: 

Subpoena

Date: 

06/26/2002

Party Receiving Legal Threat: 

Yahoo! Inc. d/b/a Texas Yahoo!

Type of Party: 

Organization

Type of Party: 

Large Organization
Intermediary

Court Type: 

State

Court Name: 

53rd District Court, Texas; Court of Appeals of Texas, Third District

Case Number: 

GN202048 (trial), 03-02-00574-CV (appeals)

Legal Counsel: 

James M. Richardson -Bankston & Richardson, L.L.P. (for John Doe)

Publication Medium: 

Forum

Relevant Documents: 

Status: 

Concluded

Disposition: 

Subpoena Quashed

Description: 

In June 2002, Dynacq International, Inc. subpoenaed Yahoo! seeking the identity of anonymous posters to its Yahoo! Message Board.  Yaho0! notified the anonymyous posters, and one John Doe moved to quash the subpoena, arguing that the subpoena violated his right to speak anonymously and that the Texas court lacked personal jurisdiction over him.  The court quashed the subpoena in a bench ruling, the details of which are not known.  Dynacq appealed the ruling to the Court of Appeals of Texas, but subsequently withdrew its appeal. 

Content Type: 

Priority: 

1-High

Threat Source: 

CyberSLAPP.org
Public Citizen

Jurisdiction: 

Subject Area: 

Cambridge Who's Who Publishing v. Xcentric Ventures

Threat Type: 

Lawsuit

Date: 

12/12/2006

Party Receiving Legal Threat: 

Xcentric Ventures, LLC (dba Rip-Off Report and/or Ripoffreport.com and/or Bad Business Bureau and/or Badbusinessbureau.com); Edward Magedson

Type of Party: 

Organization

Type of Party: 

Individual
Organization

Court Type: 

Federal

Court Name: 

United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York

Case Number: 

2:06-cv-06590

Legal Counsel: 

Maria Crimi Speth - Jaburg & Wilk, P.C.

Publication Medium: 

Forum

Relevant Documents: 

Status: 

Concluded

Disposition: 

Settled (total)

Description: 

Cambridge Who's Who Publishing, Inc. ("Cambridge") sued Xcentric Ventures, LLC and Edward Magedson in federal court in New York over user reports published on the Ripoff Report website, which provides a forum in which consumers may accuse companies and individuals of various "rip-off" and "bad business" practices. Xcentric also allegedly operates a "Corporate Advocacy Business Remediation and Consumer Statisfaction Program" (CAPS), in which companies accused of bad practices on the website can pay to have Xcentric verify published complaints and resolve disputes with consumers. 

Cambridge filed suit after a number of negative reports about it appeared on the Ripoff Report website.  The complaint alleged that Xcentric operates an extortion scheme centered around the publication of defamatory consumer reports about Cambridge and other companies in an effort to extract "protection money" (in the form of the CAPS program) to portray Cambridge and others in a positive light on the website.  Cambridge claimed that this conduct constituted extortion and violated the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO).  It also claimed that Xcentric's conduct constituted defamation, tortious interference with contract and prospective economic gain, trademark infringement, and conspiracy to injure in trade, business and reputation. 

Xcentric and Magedson moved to dismiss the complaint for lack of personal jurisdiction.  Cambridge cross-moved the court for permission to take discovery on matters relating to jurisdiction.  The court denied Xcentric's motion with permission to renew it after the completion of limited discovery on the question of Xcentric's ties to New York, specifically in connection with its CAPS program. The court limited discovery to the CAPS program, indicating that publishing consumer reviews, selling books, and giving consumers advice online was not sufficient to show that Xcentric transacted business in New York.  Slip. op. at 7-8. The court refused to consider Xcentric's argument based on section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, indicating that CDA 230 does not affect a court's personal jurisdiction over a defendant.  Id. at 3-4 n.1.

The parties settled the case, and Cambridge voluntarily dismissed its complaint in January 2008. The terms of the settlement are not public.

Content Type: 

Priority: 

1-High

Threat Source: 

Blog Post

Jurisdiction: 

Subject Area: 

Medinah Mining v. Ingram

Date: 

02/22/2000

Threat Type: 

Lawsuit

Party Receiving Legal Threat: 

Christian Amunategui; Frank W. Cerney; Bruce Neuman; John Melnyk; Jerry Segal; D. Sheridan; Frank Paletta; Shelly Paletta; Peter Smith; James Ingram; Ty Smith; David Peak; J.B. Steele; Frank Calegory; Rahminder Singh; Michael Elson (aka Michael Craig

Type of Party: 

Individual
Organization

Type of Party: 

Individual

Court Type: 

Federal

Court Name: 

United States District Court for the District of Nevada

Case Number: 

CV-N-00-0163-ECR-VPC

Legal Counsel: 

Frank W. Cerney (Pro Se); Wayne A Shaffer (for Defendants Craig, Melnyk, and Howe); N. Patrick Flanagan, III (for Defendant Ingram); Devon T. Reese (for Defendant Neuman); Jerry Segal (Pro Se)

Publication Medium: 

Forum

Relevant Documents: 

Status: 

Concluded

Disposition: 

Dismissed (total)

Description: 

Medinah Mining Company ("Medinah"), a Nevada corporation, and Les Price, a Canadian citizen and officer and director of Medinah, sued sixteen individual defendants from Chile, Canada, and several U.S. states, alleging that they defamed Medinah and Price over the Internet, including on the Raging Bull forum. The complaint failed to identify the specific allegedly defamatory statements, saying only that the defendants' comments related to the integrity and business ethics of Medinah and Price.  Besides defamation, the complaint included ten related claims, including for tortious interference, outrage, and fraud.  

Several defendants moved to dismiss on various grounds, including failure to serve process and lack of personal jurisdiction.  The court dismissed one defendant, James Ingram, for lack of personal jurisdiction.  Ingram was a resident of Arkansas, who had never been to Nevada or done business there. The court held that Ingram's postings on the Internet were insufficient to confer personal jurisdiction over him to a Nevada court.  The court ultimately dismissed the entire case for failure to prosecute. 

Content Type: 

Priority: 

1-High

Jurisdiction: 

Subject Area: 

Law School Classmates Fight Over Hog on Ice

Those of you who are regular readers of this blog know that we maintain a database of legal threats (lawsuits, subpoenas, C&D letters, etc.) directed at online and citizen media (BTW, if you know of a threat that we've missed, please add it). One of the things we try to collect for every entry is whether a party is represented by a lawyer.

Jurisdiction: 

Subject Area: 

Fahmy v. Hogge

Threat Type: 

Lawsuit

Date: 

02/20/2008

Party Receiving Legal Threat: 

Stephen Graham Hogge aka Steven H Graham; Does 1-3

Type of Party: 

Individual

Type of Party: 

Individual

Court Type: 

Federal

Court Name: 

United States District Court for the Central District of California

Case Number: 

2:08-cv-01152

Legal Counsel: 

Pro se

Publication Medium: 

Blog

Relevant Documents: 

Status: 

Pending

Disposition: 

Dismissed (total)

Description: 

Stephen Graham Hogge, operator of the blog, Hog on Ice, was sued in California by former Miami School of Law classmate Fatima dos Santos Fahmy over statements he made about her on his blog, which he describes as a humorist's view of "Guns, God, Food, Beer, Tools, Politics, and Whining."

According to Fahmy's complaint, which raises claims for Defamation, Intentional and Negligent Infliction of Emotional Distress, and False Light Invasion of Privacy, Hogge and three unknown defendants "published numerous false, defamatory and grossly injurious statements about her" on Hogge's blog, including calling her a deadbeat, maligning her work ethic, and falsely claiming that she was Hogge's former girlfriend.

Both parties represented themselves in the case. In March 2008, Hogge, a resident of Florida, filed a motion to dismiss based on lack of personal jurisdiction and insuffiency of service of process. The court initially denied the motion, but on Hogge's motion for reconsideration dismissed the case on October 14, 2008, finding that it lacked both general and specific jurisdiction over him.

Content Type: 

CMLP Notes: 

via Eric Goldman's blog

Updated 1/29/09 - VAF

Threat Source: 

RSS

Jurisdiction: 

Subject Area: 

Cohen v. Doe

Date: 

08/31/2006

Threat Type: 

Lawsuit

Party Receiving Legal Threat: 

Jane Doe

Type of Party: 

Individual

Type of Party: 

Individual

Court Type: 

State

Court Name: 

Superior Court of Maine, York County

Case Number: 

CV-06-236

Legal Counsel: 

Jerrol A. Crouter; Jonathan M. Goodman

Publication Medium: 

Forum

Status: 

Concluded

Disposition: 

Injunction Issued
Settled (total)

Description: 

Alissa Cohen sued Doe for defamation and trade libel in Maine state court after Doe criticized Cohen on various online forums, including www.complaints.com and www.sunfood.com.  Doe allegedly purchased but did not receive food-related items from Cohen's website, www.alissacohen.com.  Cohen also sought an injunction against Doe to prevent Doe from continuing to criticize her.

According to court filings,  Cohen alleges that Doe criticized her business practices and ethics. Some of the claims allegedly made by Doe were that Cohen "stole $ 100 from a young girl" and threatened her, that she "threatened a customer's life," and that she acted fraudulently "by cashing a check and then not delivering an ordered product."  Doe eventually agreed to add a posting to the site that she had received a refund when she got her money back, but she never did so because she never received a refund.

On January 24, 2007, Doe filed a motion to dismiss asserting that the Maine court lacked jursidiction over her because she was a resident of Nevada and did not have sufficient contacts with Maine to support jursidiction.  On May 23, 2007, the court denied the motion.

Update:

After extended settlement negotiations, the case was resolved by means of a consent decree entered on September 16, 2009. According to the docket sheet, the terms of the consent decree include the following order issued by the court: "1. That the defendant and her agents, servants, employees, successors and assigns are permanently enjoined and restrained from directly or indirectly posting on the internet or any other digital media any message that disparages plaintiff Alissa Cohen; and 2. that any third party main[t]aining control over any online forum, message board or other website that contains a posting that disparages plaintiff Alissan [sic] Cohen is hereby ordered to delete, remove or destroy such posting within three (3) days of the third party's notice of this order. 3. The court will retain jurisdiction of this case for enforcement purposes and expects that both parties will forbear from directly or indirectly posting disparaging comments concerning the other through the internet or other digital media."

Note that the entry of a consent decree does not necessarily indicate that the defendant admits any fault or wrongdoing; a defendant may agree to the entry of such an order as a method of settling a dispute.

Priority: 

2-Normal

Jurisdiction: 

Content Type: 

Subject Area: 

Threat Source: 

Westlaw Alert

CMLP Notes: 

Source: Westclip

(AAB) Superior Court's denial of motion to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction available on LexisNexis at 2007 Me. Super. LEXIS 105

All the info available online (thus far) seems to be a Westlaw document (2007 WL
5288665).

Brabus Ventures v. Zablotskyy

Date: 

06/04/2008

Threat Type: 

Lawsuit

Party Receiving Legal Threat: 

Volodymyr Zablotskyy; Does 1-10

Type of Party: 

Organization

Type of Party: 

Individual

Court Type: 

State

Court Name: 

Superior Court of California, County of Alameda

Case Number: 

VG08390958

Legal Counsel: 

Karl S. Kronenberger - Kronenberger Burgoyne

Publication Medium: 

Blog

Relevant Documents: 

Status: 

Concluded

Disposition: 

Dismissed (total)

Description: 

Vlad Zablotskyy, a former real estate agent and operator of Go Beyond MLS, a blog that is focused on "using modern media and Internet as a marketing tool in the real estate industry," was sued by Brabus Ventures Corporation, which operates ePerks.com, a provider of sales leads for real estate agents. 

From August 2007 through February 2008, Zablotskyy wrote several blog posts criticizing ePerks.com and questioning whether ePerks was a scam. Following the posting of a number of negative comments about the company in response to Zablotskyy's posts, an ePerks attorney sent correspondence in February 2008 demanding that Zablotskyy remove all ePerks-related content from his site and cease writing about the company in the future.

Zablotskyy removed some of the material from his blog and created a post explaining why he did so.  As a result of that post, Brabus Ventures asserts in its complaint that Zablotskyy defamed the company and its products by stating that it had falsely accused Zablotskyy of being a child molester on Yahoo! Answers.  (Although the copy of the allegedly defamatory post that plaintiff attached to its complaint does not directly attribute the child molestation charge to Brabus Ventures or ePerks, another blogger has attempted to tie the Yahoo! Answers post to an IP address range associated with ePerks.)

On September 5, 2008, Zablotskyy filed a motion to quash the summons and complaint, arguing that the California court lacks personal jurisdiction over him because he is a resident of New Jersey.

On October 23, 2008, Plaintiffs voluntarily dismissed the action.

Content Type: 

Priority: 

1-High

Jurisdiction: 

Subject Area: 

Mesa Airlines v. Uslan

Threat Type: 

Lawsuit

Date: 

01/24/2007

Party Receiving Legal Threat: 

Mike Uslan ; John Does I-X

Type of Party: 

Large Organization

Type of Party: 

Individual

Court Type: 

Federal

Court Name: 

United States District Court for the District of Arizona

Case Number: 

2:07-cv-00178

Legal Counsel: 

Jeffrey P Miller - Bushnell & Miller

Publication Medium: 

Blog

Relevant Documents: 

Status: 

Concluded

Disposition: 

Dismissed (total)

Description: 

Mesa Airlines, which operates go! airline serving the Hawaiian islands, sued Mike Uslan, a pilot employed by rival Aloha Airlines, over postings Uslan allegedly made on the Dont Fly Go Airlines website, a blog that was critical of go!  The lawsuit asserted claims for unfair competition, trademark infringement, false advertising, and defamation.

According to filings in the case, Uslan was allegedly the founder of an organization named “Hawaii's Airline Employees Repelling Ornstein" (HERO) that sought the ouster of Jonathan Ornstein, the Chief Executive Officer of Mesa's parent company, Mesa Air Group, Inc.  

The complaint alleges that the following statements were defamatory:
  • "Mesa Airlines’ employees may have been involved in a plot to murder or seriously injure a H.E.R.O member by removing the lug nuts from the member’s vehicle."  ¶ 40.
  • "Mesa Airlines “cannot retain pilots because of its repeated contract violations and poor treatment of its employees.'" ¶ 43.
  • "Mesa Airlines is unsafe and that Mesa Airlines’ pilot staffing in Hawaii is inadequate. ¶ 44.
  • "Mesa Airlines has not supported Hawaiian communities. ¶ 45.
  • "Mesa Airlines is 'dumping tickets below cost.”  ¶ 46.
  • "Mesa Airlines 'abuses' its employees and that it has poor service in Hawaii due to employee turnover and dissatisfaction."  ¶ 47.
  • "Mesa Airlines’ go! division ranks at the bottom of airlines in terms of complaints, lost baggage, cancellations, delays and over bookings." ¶ 48.
  • "Mesa Airlines is violating Federal and Hawaii laws regarding predatory pricing." ¶ 49.
  • The statement that “We should probably mention that the S.E.C., Capitol Hill, and a federal court judge aren’t happy, either.” ¶ 50.
Initially, Dont Fly Go Airlines was registered to Domains by Proxy ("DBP"), an Arizona-based website hosting company that allows content providers to remain anonymous. The website was taken down after DBP received a letter from Mesa's counsel requesting removal of content that allegedly infringed on Mesa's trademark. In November 2006, the website was reactivated in a new format. Mesa's counsel again wrote to DBP and asked for removal of the allegedly infringing content and for the names of entities or persons responsible for the site. Subsequently, DBP ceased hosting the website; and a company in China began to host the site.

On June 25, 2007, the court dismissed the case on jurisdictional grounds, noting that Uslan is a resident of the State of Hawaii and did not have sufficient contacts with the state of Arizon to warrant personal jurisdiction over him.

Content Type: 

Subject Area: 

Jurisdiction: 

Threat Source: 

MLRC

Pages

Subscribe to RSS - Personal Jurisdiction