Casual Friday presents: Ohio, the Great Logic State

We hear a lot of criticisms from all sides about the Michigan Supreme Court and the justices’ alleged allegiances to certain special interests. But no matter what one may think about the Court, it could be worse: it could be the Ohio Supreme Court.

Just last week, the Ohio Supreme Court said police don’t need a radar gun to prove a driver was speeding – just the naked eyes of a trained observer.  And in case you thought it was just having a bad week, the court has outdone itself by applying a long-arm statute to a Virginia man who posted some critical statements about an Ohio company on eBay and two internet message boards. Neither the defendant nor any of the internet sites have any ties to Ohio.(To be fair, it affirmed an idiotic Court of Appeals decision, but isn’t that what Supreme Court is for? To overturn dumb decisions by lower courts?)

But the messages could be read in Ohio (and apparently were … by five people), therefore, the company could show the “publication” element in a defamation analysis. In other words, if you post something on the internet, from anywhere in the world, about someone from Ohio, Ohio has jurisdiction over you. (Michigan fans, watch what you write on message boards about Jim Tressel!)

Roberts posted his allegedly defamatory statements on the Internet, ostensibly for the entire world to see.

And according to the Ohio Supreme Court, the proper jurisdiction for defamatory internet postings is the entire world.

Thankfully, not everyone on the court is brain dead.

Today, the majority has extended the personal jurisdiction of Ohio courts to cover any individual in any state who purchases a product from an Ohio company and posts a criticism of it on the Internet with the intent to damage the seller.

The foreseeability of causing injury to an Ohio company, whether the injury is intended or not, without directing activity at forum residents, is not sufficient to establish minimum contacts.

Subjecting all individuals to suit in Ohio who post Internet reviews — no matter how scathing — of purchases made from Ohio companies does not comport with the due process notions of “fair play and substantial justice.”

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