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Ties That Bind

Most people would recognize that the growth of the Internet has significantly changed the way we do business. However, a recent case shows that it may also change how, and where, we go to court.

The case involves two husband and wife teams that breed Tibetan mastiffs, a rare dog. One couple, located in Illinois, sued the other couple, located in Oklahoma, in Illinois court. The Illinois breeders' complaint was that the Oklahoma breeders had defamed them, invaded their privacy, and interfered with their contracts to sell dogs by posting negative comments about their dogs on the Internet. The Oklahoma breeders responded by asking that the suit be dismissed, based on the claim that they had no contact with Illinois and therefore could not be sued there.

The Illinois appellate court found that although the Oklahoma breeders had placed one telephone call and mailed one letter in connection with the purchase of dogs to the Illinois breeders, this contact was not enough to allow them to be sued in Illinois. However, the court went on to find that because the Oklahoma breeders maintained an interactive website permitting people to e mail them, and because they had placed messages about the Illinois breeders' dogs in Internet chat rooms accessible from anywhere, all of these contacts (taken together) were sufficient to allow the Oklahomans to be sued in Illinois.

Although merely using the Internet may not be enough to allow one to be sued anywhere in the country, use of the Internet in conjunction with other contacts may be. As a result, a business owner should carefully consider whether use of the Internet might expose him to suit in distant jurisdictions.

This website is not intended to constitute legal advice or the provision of legal services. By posting and/or maintaining the website and its contents, Lucas Law does not intend to solicit business from clients located in states or jurisdictions outside of Illinois wherein Lucas Law or its individual attorney(s) are not licensed or authorized to practice law.

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