U.S. District Court (Alexandria): No Personal Jurisdiction Over Defendant In Website Defamation Case
The U.S. District Court in Alexandria, Virginia (often referred to as the "rocket docket") recently held that a Canadian businessman who does business in Loudoun County, Virginia cannot sue an out-of-state resident who purportedly defamed the businessman on her website. The court concluded that it could not exercise personal jurisdiction over the defendant because there was no evidence that the defendant intended to target a Virginia audience with its website.
Under Virginia law, in order for a court to exercise personal jurisdiction over a defendant, a plaintiff must demonstrate that its lawsuit arises from activities that occurred in Virginia (“specific jurisdiction”). Alternatively, a plaintiff can establish a basis for personal jurisdiction over a defendant by showing that the defendant has such “continuous and systematic contacts” with Virginia that the defendant, for all intents and purposes, is domiciled in Virginia (“general jurisdiction”).
In this action, as the website did not target Virginia and the plaintiff could not put forth any evidence to show that the out-of-state defendant had a “continuous and systematic” presence in Virginia, the court held that it could not subject the defendant to jurisdiction in a Virginia court.
Knight v. Grayson and John Doe # 1, United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia (Alexandria Division)