Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The Seventh Circuit Notes Rejection of Zippo Approach to Personal Jurisdiction in the Internet Context

Per Illinois v. Hemi Group LLC, --- F.3d ----, 2010 WL 3547647, (7th Cir.Sept. 14, 2010):

We wish to point out that we have done the entire minimum contacts analysis without resorting to the sliding scale approach first developed in Zippo Mfg. Co. v. Zippo Dot Com, Inc., 952 F.Supp. 1119, 1124 (W.D.Pa.1997). This was not by mistake. Although several other circuits have explicitly adopted the sliding scale approach, see Tamburo v. Dworkin, 601 F.3d 693, 703 n. 7 (7th Cir.2010) (collecting cases), our court has expressly declined to do so. In Tamburo, we said that we were hesitant “to fashion a special jurisdictional test for Internet-based cases.” Id. That case dealt specifically with an intentional tort (defamation) committed over the Internet and through e-mail. Long before the Internet became a medium for defamation, the Supreme Court in Calder v. Jones, 465 U.S. 783, 104 S.Ct. 1482, 79 L.Ed.2d 804 (1984), had decided the relevant jurisdictional standard for intentional torts that cross state lines. We concluded that “the principles articulated [in Calder ] can be applied to cases involving tortious conduct committed over the Internet.” Tamburo, 601 F.3d at 703.

We reach the same conclusion here. Zippo's sliding scale was always just short-hand for determining whether a defendant had established sufficient minimum contacts with a forum to justify exercising personal jurisdiction over him in the forum state. But we think that the traditional due process inquiry described earlier is not so difficult to apply to cases involving Internet contacts that courts need some sort of easier-to-apply categorical test. See Jennings v. AC Hydraulic A/S, 383 F.3d 546, 550 (7th Cir.2004) (“[A]lthough technological advances may alter the analysis of personal jurisdiction, those advances may not eviscerate the constitutional limits on a state's power to exercise jurisdiction over nonresident defendants.”).


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