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THE LONG ARM OF TORT LAW. THE COMPETENCE OF U.S. COURTS IN DEFAMATION CLAIMS AGAINST FOREIGN DEFENDANTS

Yu.V. TAI,
Candidate of Legal Sciences, Managing Partner of JSB “Bartolius”,
Professor, School of Public Law, Faculty of Law,
National Research University Higher School of Economics

S.L. BUDYLIN,
Candidate of Physical and Mathematical Sciences, Advisor to JSB “Bartolius”,
Visiting Lecturer, Faculty of Law,
National Research University Higher School of Economics

Jurisdiction of American state courts over out-of-state defendants is determined by state
law, but is limited by constitutional considerations. If the defendant does not have sufficient
contacts with the state, it is unconstitutional for the state court to consider the dispute.
With respect to defamation suits, not only does the defamatory information actually
reach a sufficient number of state residents, but also the foreign defendant’s purposeful
actions directed at that state are necessary for state court jurisdiction over the out-ofstate
defendant to arise. In the case of the media, such a purposeful action might be, for
example, selling a significant number of copies of a magazine in that state or advertising
its website in that state. However, the posting of defamatory information on a website
available in that state does not, by itself, create jurisdiction over the publisher in state
courts. If, for example, a foreign-language website describes events outside the United
States, a U.S. court would probably not have jurisdiction, even if the plaintiff’s reputation
in the United States was damaged. But if an English-language publication on some website
intentionally defames a state resident by describing his or her activities in that state,
the publication will likely be found to be “directed at” that state, and a state court will
consider the defamation claim. The plaintiff’s location in this state in a defamation action
is not sufficient to give rise to state court jurisdiction over a defendant who does not have
sufficient minimal contacts in the state. To hear such a dispute in that state would violate
the defendant’s constitutional right to “due process” because of the burdensome nature of
his participation in the process.

Keywords: U.S.; international court jurisdiction; personal jurisdiction; defamation suit;
U.S. Constitution; due process.

References

Belmas G.I., Overbeck W.E. Major Principles of Media Law. Cengage Learning, 2014.
680 p.
John K.J.St. Personal Jurisdiction over the Foreign Defendant: Brown, Nicastro, and
the Internet. CATA News, winter 2011–2012, pp. 34–39.

Information about the author

Yu.V. Tai (Moscow, Russia) – Candidate of Legal Sciences, Managing Partner of
JSB “Bartolius”, Professor, School of Public Law, Faculty of Law, National Research University
Higher School of Economics (38 Stremiannyi Lane, Moscow, 115054, Russia;
e-mail: tay@bartolius.com).

S.L. Budylin (Moscow, Russia) – Candidate of Physical and Mathematical Sciences,
Advisor to JSB “Bartolius”, Visiting Lecturer, Faculty of Law, National Research University
Higher School of Economics (38 Stremiannyi Lane, Moscow, 115054, Russia;
e-mail: sergei.budylin@bartolius.com).

Recommended citation

Tai Yu.V., Budylin S.L. Dlinnaia ruka deliktnogo prava. Kompetentsiia sudov SShA
v diffamatsionnykh iskakh protiv inostrannykh otvetchikov [The Long Arm of Tort
Law. The Competence of U.S. Courts in Defamation Claims Against Foreign Defendants].
Vestnik grazhdanskogo protsessa – Herald of Civil Procedure, 2021, vol. 11, no. 4,
pp. 87–111. (In Russ.) https://doi.org/10.24031/2226-0781-2021-11-4-87-111

Yu.V. TAI, S.L. BUDYLIN