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Briskin v. Shopify Inc.

Three related Shopify companies work together to create and operate web-based sales platforms for merchants that sell products online. California resident Brandon Briskin filed a class-action lawsuit against Shopify in federal court in California after Shopify extracted sensitive personal and financial data from him without his consent during a purchase he made from a California merchant through Shopify’s platforms. Briskin alleged that Shopify’s surreptitious collection and subsequent commercial use of consumer data violated various provisions of California law. The district court, however, dismissed Briskin’s complaint, holding that (1) subjecting the out-of-state Shopify defendants to personal jurisdiction in California would violate constitutional due process and (2) the complaint contained insufficient detail about the precise role each of the three corporate defendants played in the challenged conduct.

Public Citizen represents Briskin on appeal, co-counseling with the law firm Gutride Safier LLP. The brief argued that California courts had jurisdiction over Shopify in this case, where Shopify reached into California transactions, extracted data from those transactions, and used the extracted California consumer data for its own commercial gain. The brief also explained that Briskin’s complaint complied with the relevant pleading standards by giving each defendant fair notice of the claims against it. A Ninth Circuit panel, however, held that Shopify was not subject to specific jurisdiction in California in this case. We then petitioned the full Ninth Circuit to review the panel opinion en banc. The petition argued that the panel opinion will hinder states from holding online tortfeasors accountable for the in-state injuries they inflict and that the opinion’s reasoning could not be reconciled with relevant Ninth Circuit and Supreme Court precedent.

In May 2024, the court of appeals granted our petition for rehearing en banc and vacated the panel opinion. The court also ordered supplemental briefing and scheduled oral argument before the en banc court for September 2024.