Could Your Web Site Hale You Into a Far-Flung Lawsuit?


These days most businesses have web sites of some sort. Have you ever wondered if a dissatisfied or injured customer in Peoria, Illinois or Honolulu, Hawaii could make you defend a lawsuit in their state just because they can view your website there? This is a question I’ve been spending a lot of time on lately.

A court only has jurisdiction to decide a case if it has jurisdiction over the subject matter and the parties. Before a court has jurisdiction over a nonresident (or foreign) defendant, the defendant has to be afforded certain due process. The defendant must have “minimum contacts” with the forum, so that making the defendant defend a suit in that state “does not offend the traditional notions of fair play and substantial justice.” If there are no minimum contacts, the court does not have jurisdiction and the case must be dismissed.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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