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Posted by panch from ? ( on Sunday, May 26, 2002 at 6:09PM :

Original Message:

I made a post to this legal site asking them questions about the case...
this was their response:

Dear Legal Experts,
I have a few questions related to the internet and lawsuits,
jurisdiction, etc.

First, let me give you some background. I have a friend who lives in
Mexico but resides in California in parts of the year. He is currently
in a dispute with a resident of California, and they have been in court
for one reason or another at least 2 or 3 times in the past few months.
This friend of mine has a web site, with a discussion forum not much
different from this one. On this forum, he often discussed the issues
that he was having with this person, and is now being sued in a civil
case for libel, defamation of character, etc.etc.etc. all because of his
internet site. I WAS INCLUDED in this lawsuit because I have, in the
past, given him technical assistance with his web site. Now, this
assistance was limited to the web pages that he wanted for his ART WORK
(my friend is an artist). I never helped him with the site when it
pertained to anything related to the person who is suing him, and I
never wrote anything about her myself. Also, the opposing party believes
that I "archive" the web site and "am prepared to post it
internationally" if it is shut down. Of course, this is untrue, and they
have no way of proving otherwise.

Now, for my questions:

1. As far as "International Shoe" and Jurisdiction arguments go, where
should this case be held? I am not a resident of California (where they
both reside), nor have I ever met, seen, or spoken with the person suing
me, nor have I ever been to California. I have, however, exchanged a few
polite and pleasant e-mails with the person who is suing me. To be
honest, I was a bit shocked when I received the summons because I
thought that I was "friends" with the person who is suing me. Also, I am
a college student with limited resources, so it would be unreasonable to
expect me to fly to California to defend myself in court. I never
thought that limited technical help could make me liable for a law
suit...can it? The opposing council seems to think that he can argue
that since I helped my friend with his web site, that I should be tried
in California. Is this reasonable?

2. Is it illegal for me to offer technical assistance to someone for
parts of their site not-related to anything controversial, or am I
somehow responsible??

In case you were wondering what the site was that is in question, it is

Thank you for your help in answering my questions.

05-18-2002 09:24 PM

Legal expert response:

Where is the web site hosted? If the provider is out in CA and you have
actively worked on the site, it is possible (although very unlikely)
that you will be considered to have availed yourself of doing business
in CA. However, if you are merely providing

There is nothing wrong with your providing technical knowledge and
assistance with someone concerning a web site. Additionally, you may
state that your assistance had nothing to do with the content. If so,
then perhaps those that supply ink to the local newspaper should also be
brought into a libel suit. The conclusion would be absurd.

Your lawyer should advise how to proceed. There are probably two ways to
go about it. One would be to ignore the case because they have no
jurisdiction. I believe that there is an ability to enter a defense of
no jurisdiction without actually making an "appearance" that says that
you agree to be subject to the jurisdiction in court (which I believe is
called a "limited appearance" and is solely limited to discovering
whether the court has jurisdiction over you). However, if you do allow
the court to make such a determination, I don't think that you could
appeal such a case in your home state and that any such appeal would
have to be made to the courts in the state of the ruling court. Don't
remember as it has been a while...

Sounds to me like they don't have much of a case against you.

-- panch
-- signature .

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