Filed August 28, 2009.
Opinion by Judge Evelyn Omega Cannon.
Held: Defendants whose contacts with Maryland were primarily limited to sending correspondence into the state and maintaining a passive website lacked sufficient contacts for the court to exercise personal jurisdiction over them.
Facts: In a lawsuit concerning the ownership of business interests in Costa Rica, the plaintiffs alleged claims against two foreign defendants who moved to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction.
The plaintiffs alleged general jurisdiction on grounds that the defendants had clients in Maryland and had earlier entered their appearance as counsel in the case. The court held that the defendants' limited client roster in the State was not sufficient. The court further held that appearing in the case could not be considered a factor because a defendant's contacts are to be measured as of the time the claim arose.
The plaintiffs alleged specific jurisdiction based on 1) an e-mail and a letter sent to the plaintiff in Maryland, 2) an allegedly defamatory website, and 3) allegedly defamatory e-mails sent to third parties, including Maryland residents. The court held that a passive website and e-mails that allegedly caused harm to business interests outside the jurisdiction were not sufficient grounds upon which to exercise personal jurisdiction.
The full opinion is available in PDF.