Website jurisdiction

While of limited precedential value because it uses “plain error” review, Ward v. Rhode touches on the role of websites in personal jurisdiction.  No. 12-41201 (May 3, 2013, unpublished).  Plaintiff alleged that the defendants placed a false “Scam Alert” about Plaintiff’s debt settlement services on a website.  The court observed: “The [Defendants’] website is interactive to the extent that it allows users to post their opinions about the debt-counseling services that they have used.  However, it neither allows users to purchase products online, nor sells subscriptions to view its content.  Therefore, the nature of the exchange of information is not commercial.”  (citing Mink v. AAAA Dev. LLC, 190 F.3d 333, 336 (5th Cir. 1999)).  Accordingly, it was “not clear or obvious” that the website’s interactivity with Texans and the commercial nature of that interaction was sufficient to establish jurisdiction.

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