Revell v. Lidov


Revell sues Lidov and Columbia University for defamation arising out of Lidov’s authorship of an article that he posted on an internet bulletin board hosted by Columbia.  At the time of the article’s production, Lidov had never been to Texas, perhaps to change place, or conducted business there.  He did not know that Revell lived in Texas. Revell sues the Board of Trustees of Columbia, whose principal offices are in NYC, and Lidov, a Mass resident in the Northern District of Texas.


Trial court dismisses for lack of personal jurisdiction.  Revell appeals.


Can the operation of an internet site support the minimum contacts necessary for the exercise of personal jurisdiction?




Must examine the interactivity and nature of the forum contacts.

Addressing General Jurisdiction:  The maintenance of a website is a continuous presence everywhere in the world, the cited contact of Columbia with Texas are not in any way “substantial.”  4000 registered domain names were not enough to create general jurisdiction in Bird v. Parsons; Columbia website had not more than 20.  In this case, any user of the internet can post material to the bulletin board.  This means individuals send information to be posted and receive information that others have posted.  It is interactive and its interactivity should be evaluated.

Court relies on Calder, which said that Florida resident can sue National Enquirer in Cal for libel because enquirer “expressly aimed” their conduct towards California.  Revell wants to argue for the application of the “effects test” in Calder.  For the effects test:  There is no reference to TX, it doesn’t refer to the TX activities of Revell, not directed at TX readers as distinguished from other states.  In Young v. New Have Advocate, the court reasoned that the application of Calder in the Internet context requires proof that the out of state defendant’s internet activity is expressly directed at or directed to the forum state.  The post to the bulletin was direct at the entire world, or perhaps just concerned U.S. Citizens, not directly at Texas.

Lidov would know that his article would hit hard wherever Revell lived, but that is the case with virtually all defamation cases.  A more direct aim is required.

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