New York Appellate Court Addresses Personal Jurisdiction Based On Online Contacts

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Recently, the New York Appellate Division, Second Department, held that out-of-state defendants in a medical malpractice case were not subject to the New York court’s personal jurisdiction based on an Internet advertisement viewed in New York and a subsequent series of email and phone contacts between the New York resident patient and the out of state defendants. Paterno v. Laser Spine Inst., No 2011-4654, 2013 WL 5629871 (N.Y. App. Div. Oct. 16, 2013). In this case, the New York trial court had dismissed a medical malpractice suit filed in New York against a Florida-based medical provider over services rendered in Florida, holding that the medical service provider did not transact business in New York. On appeal the Appellate Division agreed, holding that although a defendant need not be physically present in the state to “transact any business” there in satisfaction of New York’s statutory requirements for personal jurisdiction, the totality of the circumstances presented did not provide a basis for exercising long-arm jurisdiction over the medical service provider. The appellate court rejected the patient’s argument that the provider had actively solicited business in New York through an online advertisement, holding that the provider’s website was passive in nature and that there was no indication it facilitated the purchase of any goods or services. The appellate court also concluded that a series of email and phone contacts between the patient and the provider did not constitute “business activity” and were not sufficiently “purposeful” for jurisdictional purposes.


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