Suing in New Jersey Based On Internet Advertising

There is a basic concept in the law of due process. Part of that is that a person or entity should not be sued in a State where it has not done business. In the old days, it might be sufficient to show that the defendant never stepped foot in New Jersey and therefore is not subject to the jurisdiction of the Courts. This question is governed by the principle of reasonableness and whether the defendant has minimum contacts sufficient that he should expect to be haled into court here.

Further, the jurisdiction can be general or specific. The former is based on the defendant being answerable in New Jersey for its continuous and systematic activities here. The latter depends on the cause of action to be sued on, being based on the defendant’s minimum contacts here. In either case, the analysis is always very fact specific. The plaintiff always has the burden to prove that the court should have long arm jurisdiction based on the defendant’s contacts with New Jersey.

What if the defendant never set foot in New Jersey, but rather all of its contacts were electronic?

The Appellate Division has held that television advertising by Walt Disney World in New Jersey is sufficient to confer jurisdiction. Further, advertising in New Jersey by a Mexican hotel corporation coupled with the use by the corporation of a New Jersey marketing agent has been held sufficient. However, a New Jersey resident injured at a Mexican resort to which she was invited by her daughter who owned a time share there could not sue the resort in New Jersey under a theory of long arm jurisdiction.

Today, plaintiffs will try to argue that the use of internet advertising that reaches New Jersey residents is sufficient to confer jurisdiction over the advertiser even through the advertiser is located out of State.

Yet one New Jersey court has held that an airline’s internet page and advertisement of 800 number were insufficient New Jersey contacts to warrant long arm jurisdiction. Similarly, the Appellate Division has held that telephonic and electronic communications alone between an out-of-state employee and a New Jersey employer were insufficient to establish jurisdiction.

It is always crucial for defense counsel to consider whether our Courts have jurisdiction
over an out of state defendant, and whether an application should be made at an early stage to have the lawsuit dismissed. In that way, defendants gain the advantage of litigating these disputes on their home turf.

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