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The Internet Is A One-Way Street

THE INTERNET IS A ONE-WAY STREET

In a victory for business interests, an Illinois court recently ruled that an Illinois resident had to go to Missouri to sue the company responsible for his injuries.

The case involved an Illinois resident who learned of the training services offered by the Missouri Bone and Joint Center ("MBJC"), and who was then injured by the MBJC in Missouri. He sued in Illinois, and the evidence showed that the MBJC gave presentations about its services and advertised in Illinois. The MBJC also maintained an interactive website that allowed Illinois residents to contact it to request an appointment, fill out patient surveys, and make comments. Despite these contacts, the court determined that it had no jurisdiction to hear the case because the MBJC's contacts with Illinois were not systematic enough.

Although the law permits courts to exercise jurisdiction over companies doing business in, or having continuous contacts with, the state, the court found that the MBJC did not have such contacts. In doing so, it rejected other cases finding the level of interactivity of websites an important factor, and distinguishing between "passive" websites (i.e., those not allowing people viewing them to initiate any contact with the company) and "active" websites (i.e., those like the MBJC's that permit a two-way dialogue between companies and consumers).

The court ruled that passive websites were similar to radio or magazine advertising, while active websites resembled communications by telephone or mail, but that in either case "[a]n ad on the Internet is no different than an ad in any other medium that provides a telephone number or other means to contact a potential defendant," and that merely advertising in Illinois is not enough to give the courts jurisdiction to hear claims against a company.

This decision is a blow to Illinois citizens who are injured by foreign companies, and will condemn many of them to go to another state if they want to sue for redress.

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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