Pierre Grosdidier in Law360: When Internet Libel Lands You In An Out-of-State Court

04/24/2015

Mind what you post on Internet. This advice is hardly new, but not all heed it. An arguably libelous post might not only land its author in court, it might land him in a state the author has never even once visited. A Colorado resident recently learned this lesson the hard way when she fell under the personal jurisdiction of a Texas federal court because of the allegedly “libelous and defamatory statements” she posted on Internet about a Texas resident. Hawbecker v. Hall, No. SA-14-CV-1010-XR (W.D. Tex. Feb. 19, 2015)...

Internet defamation cases present courts with a “unique challenge” regarding whether to exercise personal jurisdiction over a foreign defendant. A person can post libelous statements on social media that can be seen instantly by all other Internet users in the world — assuming these users know where to look. For a court in one state to exercise personal jurisdiction over a resident of another state merely because of an offending Internet post potentially eviscerates the territorial boundaries of personal jurisdiction.

To avoid jurisdictional overreach, courts have generally exercised personal jurisdiction only over nonresident defendants who directed their libel at the forum state, as opposed to those who merely opined on Internet for all to see.

Excerpted from Law360. to read the full article, click here.

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