Monday, July 1, 2019

Pennsylvania Superior Court Decides Proper Venue For Internet Defamation Cases (Case of First Impression)

The issue of proper venue in a case of alleged defamation on the world wide web was addressed by the Pennsylvania Superior Court in the case of Fox v. Smith, 2019 Pa. Super. 166 (Pa. Super. May 23, 2019 Kunselman, J., Murray, J., Pelligreni, J.)(Op. by Pellegrini, J.)(Murray, J., Concurring).

The appellate court ruled that venue is proper in internet defamation cases in any venue where the Plaintiff suffered reputational harm, even though the actions underlying the defamation may have occurred elsewhere.

In this particular case, venue was found to be proper in Philadelphia where the Plaintiff allegedly sustained harm to his reputation even though the acts of defamation allegedly occurred elsewhere.

To review the Majority Opinion, please click HERE.

The Concurring Opinion can be viewed HERE.

In his Concurring Opinion, Judge Murray joined the Majority in its decision but wrote his additional Opinion to note that this was a case of first impression to which prevailing venue case law was applied to the novel scenario of electronic communications.  In his Concurring Opinion, Judge Murray urges the "[Pennsylvania] Supreme Court, its rules committees, and our legislature to provide further guidance in the evolving area of electronic communications."

Source:  "Court Summaries" by Timothy L. Clawges in the Pennsylvania Bar News (July 1, 2019)

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