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Web Site With Alleged Defamatory Material Not Enough to Establish Jurisdiction in Forum State
Description Federal court in Mississippi dismissed a suit filed by a Mississippi firm against a Florida competitor that posted allegedly defamatory material on its website. This passive site was not enough to establish jurisdiction under the due process clause, so the suit was dismissed.
Topic Cyberlaw
Key Words Web site; Defamation; Minimum Contacts; Due Process
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts Phoenix, a Mississippi company that does specialty work on aircraft, sued TDI, a Florida competitor, for damages arising from defamatory statements on the TDI website about some alleged technical difficulties of some work done by Phoenix, as well as posting the criminal history and a mug shot of one of the shareholders of Phoenix. The suit was filed in federal court in Mississippi. TDI filed a motion to dismiss based on lack of jurisdiction.
Decision Motion granted; suit dismissed. The publication of the alleged defamatory information on the website does satisfy the Mississippi long-arm statute because residents in the state have access to the information. However, under the due process clause, the website is not sufficient to establish minimum contacts with the state because the defendants do not have "continuous and systematic contacts" with the forum state since the website was passive; it was not designed to attract business.
Citation Lofton v. Turbine Design, Inc., F.Supp.2d (2000 WL 6364711, N.D. Miss., 2000)

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