Horvitz & Levy LLP represented an Illinois-resident defendant in a defamation action, successfully challenging a trial court order asserting personal jurisdiction over him.
The plaintiffs have a company that sells an anti-aging skincare product. They also maintain a blog, which posted derogatory statements about a competing company’s product and the company itself. The defendant, Douglas Burdick, who provides consulting services to the competing company, made statements in a Facebook post that challenged the veracity of the blog posts and of the posts’ author. The plaintiffs sued Burdick for defamation.
Plaintiffs are California residents. Burdick lives in Illinois, where he published the allegedly defamatory Facebook post. The competing company is headquartered in Texas, but sells its products nationwide, including doing substantial business in California. Burdick moved to quash service, claiming that personal jurisdiction over him in California would violate his Due Process rights. The trial court denied the motion. The Court of Appeal summarily denied his writ petition.
Burdick retained Horvitz & Levy to petition the Supreme Court for review. The Supreme Court granted the petition and transferred the matter to the Court of Appeal. After further briefing by Horvitz & Levy, the Court of Appeal in a published opinion granted in part Burdick’s writ petition. The court concluded that plaintiffs had failed to present facts sufficient to support personal jurisdiction over Burdick in California. The trial court was directed to vacate its order denying Burdick’s motion to quash service and to rule in the first instance on plaintiffs’ request to conduct discovery relevant to the jurisdictional issue.