Is a Website Sufficient Minimum Contacts for Personal Jurisdiction in a Minnesota Lawsuit?

Mouse Trap: Personal Jurisdiction & Sufficient Minimum Contacts

In 2003, the Minnesota Court of Appeals addressed the issue of whether a website that was accessible from Minnesota was sufficient to fulfill the “minimum contacts” requirement for Minnesota’s long arm statute to establish personal jurisdiction in a Minnesota lawsuit. The short answer was “no.”

Only Meikikou’s English-language Internet site provides a contact that could be interpreted as an advertisement accessible to Minnesotans in Minnesota. The Internet site, however, was primarily a broad promotion of the company and general advertisement of its products. It did not provide an avenue for communicating with customers and did not target Minnesota. There also was no evidence of “hits” on the Internet site or successful Internet solicitations of Minnesota residents. In any event, jurisdiction cannot be based solely on the ability to access an Internet site, see GTE New Media Servs., Inc. v. BellSouth Corp., 199 F.3d 1343, 1349-50 (D.C.Cir.2000), particularly when the cause of action is unrelated to the Internet site. Cf. State v. Granite Gate Resorts, 568 N.W.2d 715 (Minn.App.1997) (concluding that minimum contacts existed where Internet advertising involved multiple contacts with Minnesota residents on the Internet, including one successful solicitation, and cause of action arose from Internet connection), aff’d mem.,576 N.W.2d 747 (Minn.1998). While indirect contacts are sufficient for personal jurisdiction, Rostad v. On-Deck, Inc., 372 N.W.2d 717, 721 (Minn.1985) (noting distribution contracts and marketing efforts calculated to create a national market for the product), the nonresident defendant must have those contacts, not just the distributor. In re Minn. Asbestos Litig., 552 N.W.2d 242, 247 (Minn.1996); see also Welsh v. Takekawa Iron Works, Co., 529 N.W.2d 471, 474 (Minn.App.1995) (noting that jurisdiction may be proper where wide-scale marketing efforts or nationwide sales of commonly used products existed).

See Juelich v. Yamazaki Mazak Optonics Corp., 670 N.W.2d 11, 18-19 (Minn. Ct. App. 2003).

Thus, the Minnesota Court of Appeals affirmed that the district court correctly dismissed, for lack of personal jurisdiction, claims against a company with a website accessible from Minnesota.

Please note that cases applying traditional law to the internet is an evolving area of law. Thus, you should contact an experienced internet attorney and research whether there are new cases on this topic before relying on the case here.