University of Vermont AAHS

Dolphin v. Equibase Company

U.S. Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit
UNPUBLISHED, 2003 WL 21076827
May 13, 2003

Summary of Opinion

Plaintiff Dolphin sued Defendant company in Missouri claiming it fixed races on which he had bet.  The trial court dismissed the lawsuit on the ground it lacked personal jurisdiction over the defendants.  The only evidence defendants were doing business in Missouri was nationwide advertising was available in Missouri as was access to its web site.  These are insufficient contacts upon which to base personal liability.

Text of Opinion

 Otis Dolphin, Jr. (Dolphin), a Missouri citizen, sued defendants‑‑who are citizens of Kentucky, New York, and Nevada‑‑for allegedly fixing California horse races upon which he had bet in Illinois. Dolphin appeals the district court's order dismissing his diversity action for lack of personal jurisdiction.

 Upon de novo review, see Clune v. Alimak AB, 233 F.3d 538, 541 (8th Cir.2000), we conclude the district court lacked personal jurisdiction over defendants. Dolphin presented evidence defendants' advertisements reached Missouri, and their websites could be accessed from Missouri. However, jurisdiction cannot be based solely on the ability to access a website, see GTE New Media Servs., Inc. v. BellSouth Corp., 199 F.3d 1343, 1349‑50 (D.C.Cir.2000), or on defendants' alleged limited advertising in Missouri, see Burlington Indus., Inc. v. Maples Indus., Inc., 97 F.3d 1100, 1103 (8th Cir.1996), especially considering Dolphin alleged no connection between the websites or the advertising and his claims. Thus, there were insufficient contacts to justify the court's exercise of jurisdiction over defendants. See Porter v. Berall, 293 F.3d 1073, 1076 (8th Cir.2002) (listing five factors to consider, including relation of cause of action to contacts); Guinness Import Co. v. Mark VII Distribs., Inc., 153 F.3d 607, 614 (8th Cir.1998) ( "defendant's contacts with forum state must not be random, fortuitous, attenuated, or the result of unilateral activity of third person").

Accordingly, we affirm.

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