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Our Results - 2013

Oct. 2013

Todd & Weld Attorneys Win Ruling for Clients in Case of First Impression re Internet Defamation

As reported on the front page of the October 28, 2103 edition of Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly, in the matter of Taylor, et al v. Taylor, et al, Superior Court Judge Peter B. Krupp denied the defendants' motion to dismiss claiming that the defendant, a non-resident of Massachusetts, was not subject to the jurisdiction of the courts of the Commonwealth, thus preserving the suit brought by Todd & Weld attorneys on behalf of its clients alleging that the defendants posted defamatory information about them on the Internet. The finding is a case of first impression in Massachusetts.

The plaintiffs, who are Massachusetts realtors, argued that while the defendants are not resident in Massachusetts, nearly all the harm occurred in Massachusetts. Judge Krupp agreed: "The acts in question were purposefully directed to Massachusetts, referenced individual resident[s] in Massachusetts and their company that is based in Massachusetts, and purported to be posted by a former employee with knowledge of the plaintiffs' business practices. The postings were plainly intended to cause harm in Massachusetts."

David H. Rich, a partner with Todd & Weld LLP, said that what makes the case so unusual is that the complaint does not allege any of the factors typically raised in support of a personal jurisdiction claim other than the Internet activity directed to the plaintiffs in Massachusetts. Mr. Rich stated: "Now that we have the Internet, it is an added layer of complication because someone sitting in some faraway land behind a computer who is typing up terrible things about someone else may not think they're ever going to get sued in Massachusetts, but in this case, we find ourselves with a judge saying that if you're directing your defamatory conduct to a Massachusetts resident, you can and should reasonably expect to be subjected to jurisdiction there."

Mr. Rich is being assisted on the case by David H. Travers, an associate with Todd & Weld.

Click here to download Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly article in PDF.