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Federal Court Dismisses Claim Of Personal Jurisdiction Because Website Listing Did Not Meet Due Process Requirement

Posted In Jurisdiction
Kalk v. Fairfield Language Technologies, No. Civ.A. 04-1486-JJF, 2005 WL 945715 (D.Del. Apr. 22, 2005). Pro se Plaintiff, a resident of Delaware, filed a Complaint against defendants' alleging tort claims. Defendants' filed a Motion to Dismiss the Complaint. The background to the suit involved violation of an alleged non-competition covenant by Plaintiff. Plaintiff alleged that subsequently, Defendants' caused the termination of his employment from Auralog, Inc., by sending a letter to them. Plaintiff filed this Complaint which alleged Tortious Interference with Contract and Conspiracy Against Rights. Plaintiff claimed that the court had subject matter jurisdiction under diversity of citizenship. However, Plaintiff failed to allege sufficient facts to demonstrate personal jurisdiction over the defendants'. Accordingly, the court granted the Motion to Dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction because: (1)Defendant Fairfield Language Technologies et al was a Virginia incorporated entity with its principal place of business in that state; (2) its President and Chairman, Defendant Eugene Stoltzfus, resided and worked in Virginia; (3) Defendant Kathryn S. Fairfield, its General Counsel likewise was a resident and worked in Virginia; and (4) none of the Defendants' had "purposefully availed" business in Delaware. Defendants contended that because they did not own property in Delaware, undertook no business in Delaware or did not avail themselves the privilege of doing business in Delaware, there was no basis for personal jurisdiction over them. The court examined Delaware's Long-Arm Statute, 10 Del. C. § 3104 and noted that personal jurisdiction may not exist by maintaining a commercially inactive website, citing Toys "R" Us, Inc. v. Step Two, S.A., 318 F.3d 446, 454 (3d Cir. 2003). Instead, the court held, there must be purposeful and direct targeting of an entity's website toward the state, a knowing interaction with Delaware residents via the website, or through other types of related contacts. Applying the Third Circuit law, the court granted the Defendants' motion because the Plaintiff failed to allege sufficient facts to show that the court could exercise personal jurisdiction over the Defendants'. The court also dismissed Plaintiff's contention that "a description of and link to Defendants' website [that] appeare[d] on the Delaware Immigration Directory's website" was not sufficient to provide personal jurisdiction because the Plaintiff did not produce evidence to show that Defendants' sought to be listed on that website. Therefore, the court held that the Defendants' had not "purposefully availed" themselves of conducting business in Delaware and granted Defendants' Motion to Dismiss the Complaint. Authored by: Raj Srivatsan 302.888.6831 Share
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