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Danna and Richard Goldhaber sued Charles Kohlenberg for defamation in New Jersey state court after Kohlenberg allegedly posted derogatory comments about them on an Internet newsgroup devoted to cruises and cruise ships. Kohlenberg did not appear in the New Jersey action because a California lawyer advised him that New Jersey did not have personal jurisdiction over him. The Goldhabers obtained a default judgment from the New Jersey court, which awarded them $2,000 in compensatory damages and $1,000,000 in punitive damages.
Kohlenberg then hired a New Jersey attorney and filed a motion to set aside the default judgment, arguing that New Jersey lacked personal jurisdiction over him and that he had a reasonable excuse for failing to appear in the New Jersey action. The trial court denied his motion, and he appealed.
The New Jersey appeals court upheld personal jurisdiction over Kohlenberg, finding that he had targeted his comments at New Jersey. Specifically, the court noted that Kohlenberg knew that the Goldhabers resided in New Jersey and that he knew the municipality in which they resided and made specific disparaging references to that municipality. It also noted that he made certain postings in response to the Goldhabers' replies to his comments, referred to the Goldhabers' neighbors in their apartment complex, and posted their address. The appeals court vacated the default judgment against Kohlenberg, however, reasoning that his failure to appear was "excusable neglect" because he relied on the advice of counsel. See generally, Goldhaber v. Kohlenberg, 928 A.2d 948 (Super. Ct. App. Div. 2007).
The CMLP has not been able to determine what happened after the case returned to the trial court.
9/13/2007 - An answer to the complaint is filed.
12/6/2008- The calculated end date of discovery.