Mary, a small business owner in Vermont whose company specializes in the manufacture and sale of ski equipment to Vermont ski resorts, signs a contract with Froogle, Inc. an internet corporation with principal place of business in California, which allows Mary to advertise her business on Froogle’s internet search engine. All of Mary’s business dealings with Froogle are done either by telephone or via internet; she has never been to California. Two months into the business relationship Froogle states that Mary has violated their agreement which prompts Froogle to file a lawsuit against Mary in the California court system.
Does the State of California County of Monterey in Salinas have personal jurisdiction over Mary?
In order for a state (California) to have personal jurisdiction over a non resident defendant (Mary) the defendant must have established minimum contacts: (1) purposeful direction of activities towards the forum: Boschetto v. Hansing, 539 F.3d 1011 (9th Cir. 2008) – “minimum contacts”. Without greater interactivity between Mary’s advertisement for her Vermont based business dealings and the residents of California, personal jurisdiction would not be appropriate: Mink v AAAA Development L.L.C., 190 F.3d 333 (5th Cir. 199)
In order to establish if a plaintiff’s state forum has personal jurisdiction over a non resident defendant they must prove that the nonresident defendant (whom has never traveled to California and does not target there business advertising at California residents) had sufficient amount of contact with the state. A passive website advertising that is not directed at the residents of California is not enough to establish personal jurisdiction.
Therefore, the state of California would not have personal jurisdiction over Mary.
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