South-Western Legal Studies in Business

One Unsolicited E-mail Not Sufficient to Establish Personal Jurisdiction
Description Utah supreme court held that a single unsolicited ad received by a consumer in Utah who complained that it did not contain the needed indications that it was an advertisement was insufficient contact with Utah to establish jurisdiction over the company.
Topic Cyberlaw
Key Words Due Process; Jurisdiction; Minimum Contacts; E-mail; Advertisement
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts Fenn, a Utah resident, received an unsolicited e-mail ad from Mleads. Mleads sent ads about home loans trying to drum up business for lenders it worked for. Fenn sued under the Utah Unsolicited Commercial and Sexually Explicit Email Act that requires the characters ADV in the subject line of unsolicited commercial e-mail. [The Act was later repealed due to passage of the federal law referred to as Controlling the Assault of Non-solicited Pornography and Marketing (CAN-SPAM), but the Utah law applies in this case.] The district court dismissed the suit for lack of personal jurisdiction. The appeals court reversed. Mleads appealed.
Decision

Reversed. A single unsolicited e-mail ad sent by a corporation from another state and received by a Utah consumer did not create a substantial connection between the corporation and Utah. Thus, Mleads lacked sufficient minimum contacts with Utah to satisfy due process requirements necessary for a court to assert personal jurisdiction over the corporation.

Citation Fenn v. Mleads Enterprises, ---P.3d--- (2006 WL 306645, Sup. Ct., Utah, 2006)

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