-- Here are some random out of order quotes from the decision: --
VERIZON ONLINE SERVICES, INC., Plaintiff, v. ALAN RALSKY, ET AL., Defendants.
Civil Action No. 01-432-A
US DIST. COURT FOR THE EASTERN DIST. OF VA, June 7, 2002
Defendants' Motion to Dismiss for Lack of Personal Jurisdiction is DENIED
Defendants' Motion to Dismiss for Improper Venue is DENIED
Defendants' Motion to Transfer Venue to the Eastern District of Michigan is DENIED.
"On December 9, 2000, Verizon alleges that UBE messages from Defendants
consumed an estimated 56 gigabytes of storage capacity on Verizon's servers,
which included seven in Virginia." (yikes!)
"Several courts, including this one, have held that under certain
circumstances, the transmission of UBE through a computer system
constitutes the tort of trespass to chattel."
" The issue presented is whether Defendants' transmission of millions of
UBE to Verizon's subscribers through Verizon's servers in Virginia
constitutes sufficient minimum contacts to satisfy the demands of the Due
Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution. For the
reasons discussed below, the Court finds that it does. Crediting the
allegations in Verizon's Amended Complaint, Defendants deliberately
transmitted millions of UBE to and through Verizon's e-mail servers in
Virginia. In doing so, Defendants solicited business from Verizon's
subscribers for pecuniary gain, while at the same time trespassing on
Verizon's proprietary network causing harm to its servers located in Virginia.
Defendants knew or should have known that such trespass violated Verizon's
public anti-UBE policy and that the brunt of the harm caused by their
allegedly tortious conduct would fall on Verizon's servers. Allowing
Defendants to escape personal jurisdiction in a forum they have exploited
for pecuniary gain while causing a tort to a Virginia resident would
constitute a manifest unfairness to the rights of Verizon and the interests
of Virginia. Defendants cannot bombard with impunity a Virginia Internet
Service Provider ("ISP"), consuming server capacity and deluging the ISP's
customers with spam, and then avoid jurisdiction by asserting ignorance of
where the UBE was going or the harm such spam would cause the ISP's servers
and its customers. Defendants knew or should have known that their UBE was
harming Verizon and that Verizon would bring suit against them where
Defendants' spam caused Verizon the greatest injury. When a business
directs UBE advertising of its products to a Virginia ISP and causes a tort
within Virginia, the business tortfeasor is purposefully availing itself of
the laws of Virginia and thereby subjects itself to long-arm jurisdiction
in Virginia within the contours of the Constitution."
"There are two types of personal jurisdiction a federal court may exercise
over a nonresident defendant - general or specific. [...]the inquiry in
this case is whether Defendants' contacts flowing from Verizon's claims are
sufficient to establish specific jurisdiction. In determining minimum
contacts for specific personal jurisdiction, "a court properly focuses on
the 'relationship among the defendant, the forum, and the litigation.'"
[...] First, the Court must determine whether Defendants "purposefully
availed [themselves] of the privilege of conducting activities within the
[...]Second, the Court must assess whether the causes of action alleged by
Verizon arise from Defendants' activities here in Virginia.
[...]Finally, the Court must ask whether the acts by Defendants, or the
consequences of the acts caused by Defendants, have a substantial enough
connection with Virginia to render the exercise of jurisdiction over
Defendants "constitutionally 'reasonable.'"
[...]Addressing these three steps in turn, the Court finds that the
exercise of personal jurisdiction over Defendants in this case does not
violate Due Process."
" The Supreme Court has recognized that the inquiry slightly shifts when
the application of the purposeful availment prong turns on a tort claim
...and...] held that it was proper for a California court to exercise
jurisdiction over Florida reporters for The National Enquirer who the
plaintiff alleged had published a libelous article. Finding that the
"article was drawn from California sources, and the brunt of
the harm . . . was suffered in California," the Court concluded that c was
proper because the "'effects' of their Florida conduct [was based] in
"Defendants argue that since they did not know that the UBE would harm
Verizon's servers in Virginia, then they could not have purposefully
availed themselves of the forum.[...] But Defendants' argument fails for
several reasons. First, they ignore the simple fact that they could have
easily structured their conduct to avoid being haled into Virginia by not
spamming Verizon's subscribers. [...] Unlike a car manufacturer who places
its product into the "stream of commerce" ignorant of where it may wind up,
Defendants knew precisely where their spam was going - Verizon's e-mail
servers and its customers. And they knew, or reasonably should have known,
that such conduct violated Verizon's public anti-spam policy and would
result in litigation. [...] Defendants allegedly purposefully transmitted
millions of UBE to Verizon's e-mail servers. They cannot seek to escape
answering for these actions by simply pleading ignorance as to where these
severs were physically located."
The Register of Known Spam Operations (ROKSO) collates information and evidence on entities with a history of spamming or providing spam services, and entities affiliated or otherwise connected with them, for the purpose of assisting ISP Abuse Desks and Law Enforcement Agencies.