Revell v. Lidov
5th Circuit Court - 2002 (317 F.3d 467)
- Lidov (D) wrote an allegedly defamatory article against Revell (P) about his knowledge that a plane would crash.
- Lidov (from MA) posted the article to a Columbia (in NY) message board.
- Revell (from TX) sued Lidov and Columbia in TX.
- D won in district court.
- Decision affirmed, D wins, no jurisdiction
- Can a forum state exercise personal jurisdiction over a party who writes/hosts an article injuring a party in the forum state if the article is not directed at the forum state or any activities occurring there?
- A state may only exercise personal jurisdiction over a party who writes/hosts an article injuring a party in the forum state if the article is directed at the forum state or activities occurring there.
- The operation of a website can support the minimum contacts necessary for the exercise of personal jurisdiction. It must be measured on a "sliding scale" as described in Zippo.
- A "passive website", one that merely allows the owner to post information on the internet, is not sufficient to establish personal jurisdiction
- On the other end are sites whose owners engage in repeated online contacts with forum residents over the internet. Personal jurisdiction may be proper in these cases.
- In between are sites with some interactive elements. These sites require examination of the extent of interactivity and nature of the forum contacts.
- Calder's "effects test" is just one facet of minimum contacts analysis.
- The article contains no reference to TX, does not refer to activities in TX, and is not directed at TX readers as distinguished from readers in other states.
- A plaintiff's residence in a forum state and suffering harm there alone will not support jurisdiction under Calder.
- D did not even know that Revell was a TX resident at the time of authorship. Knowledge of the particular state in which a plaintiff will suffer the harm is an important element in the test.
- None given.
- Effects test language has been used extensively in the many cases in which the D's contacts have involved the internet
- Here, a paper by a Harvard prof posted on a Columbia web page was highly critical of Buck Revell (of the FBI) relating to Pan Am 103 crash
- Revell (living in TX) files suit there (obviously better to be in TX than in MA or NY because of parties/loyalties involved)
- Does this fit the effects test?
- Seems like it could fit if we look at the effects test broadly.
- Court doesn't like the broad test, tries to pare it down.
- Test of the 4th Circuit
- A state may exercise personal jurisdiction over a person when that person…
- Directs electronic activity into the state,
- With the manifested intent of engaging in business or other interactions within the state, and
- That activity creates, in a person within the state, a potential cause of action cognizable in the state's courts
- Even if the "effects test" analysis fails to give jurisdiction over a D, purposeful availment can be found based on a contractual relationship or based on triggering the "stream of commerce".