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Internet Solutions Corp. v. Marshall

A company called Internet Solutions Corporation (ILC) sued Tabatha Marshall, a website owner located in the state of Washington, over allegedly defamatory statements about ILC made on Marshall’s website. ILC, whose principal place of business is in Florida, filed the suit in federal district court in Florida. Marshall moved to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction, and ILC appealed. The Eleventh Circuit then asked the Florida Supreme Court to address the question whether the allegedly defamatory posts on the website subjected the owner to personal jurisdiction in Florida under Florida’s long-arm statute. Public Citizen filed a brief arguing that someone who refers to a company on a website that is accessible in all states cannot reasonably expect to face jurisdiction in every state where that website can be viewed. Accordingly, in determining whether jurisdiction is proper, courts should look to whether a website specifically targets forum residents and whether the site is commercially interactive. Because here, defendant Marshall posted the allegedly defamatory statements on a noncommercial, minimally interactive website that did not specifically target Florida residents, she should not be subjected to jurisdiction in Florida. The Florida Supreme Court, however, held that jurisdiction was proper under Florida’s long-arm statute because the website was accessible and accessed in Florida.