Originally Posted By: gjohnson
This post was automatically imported from our archived forum.
What I found interesting about this article, is not that the lady sued her HI for faults. But that she sued Pillar to Post for their website that led her to the HI. While the case was dropped against Pillar to Post it does tend to make one think.
Court Rules in Favor of Web Site Operator
By Winthrop Quigley
Journal Staff Writer
A New Mexico customer has to be able to interact with an out-of-state Web site before a state court will hear certain lawsuits brought against the site operator, the state Court of Appeals has ruled.
Allowing a customer to access what the court called an "essentially passive" site is not enough to give the court authority over the site operator in some lawsuits, the court ruled.
The ruling is the first of its kind here. Never before has the court considered when a Web site operator is subject to what is known as personal jurisdiction, according to the court's written opinion.
Companies that are based outside of New Mexico but that do some business in the state can be sued by New Mexicans provided the company has some minimum amount of contact with the state. Normally doing business in the state will meet that standard and establish personal jurisdiction, which allows a court to exert its authority over the out-of-state company.
Personal jurisdiction doesn't occur in New Mexico simply because a New Mexican can visit a Web site run by an out-of-state company, the court found.
A California woman, Sandra Sublett, planned to buy a house in Tijeras and wanted it inspected. She found an inspector by visiting a Web site operated by Pillar to Post Inc., based in Tampa, Fla.
Pillar to Post sells franchises to home inspectors. Its Web site linked Sublett to a home inspector in Moriarty.
Sublett bought the Tijeras home, after its inspection by Scott Wallin, but later found what she thought were defects that the inspection should have uncovered, according to the appeals court opinion. She sued Wallin and Pillar to Post, claiming, among other things, that she was the victim of fraud and unfair trade practices.
A district court in Bernalillo County dismissed Pillar to Post from the lawsuit on grounds the court had no personal jurisdiction over the company. The Appeals Court agreed with the district judge.
Writing for a unanimous three-judge panel, Lynn Pickard said the court, "at a minimum, requires a degree of interactivity on the site. A passive Web site, which merely provides information and offers no opportunity for interaction, will ordinarily not be enough to support personal jurisdiction."
The court found that all the Pillar to Post Web site did was redirect Sublett to its Moriarty franchisee.
Pickard said it is possible that defamation, libel or trademark actions might meet the criteria for personal jurisdiction, even on a passive Web site, but the court did not rule on that issue.