Revell v. Lidov
317 F.3d 467 (5th Cir. 2002)

  • Lidov (who was in Massachusetts) wrote a critical article about Revell and posted it on and internet site hosted by Columbia University (in New York). Revell sued for defamation in his State, Texas.
    • The article claimed that Revell (Dep. Director of FBI) had covered up information related to the Pan Am 103 bombing.
  • The Trial Court dismissed the case. Revell appealed.
    • The Trial Court found that there was a lack of minimum contacts between Texas and the defendants to give the Texas Court personal jurisdiction.
      • See Federal Rule 12(b)(2).
  • The Appellate Court affirmed.
    • The Appellate Court suggested, based on the decision of Zippo Manufacturing Co. v. Zippo Dot Com, Inc. (952 F. Supp. 1119 (1997)), that there be some kind of sliding scale to determine if there are enough contacts between the person who posts information on the internet and forum residents to be considered minimum contacts necessary to establish general personal jurisdiction.
    • The Court found that using the Zippo standard, there was not enough to hold for specific jurisdiction either.
      • Revel unsuccessfully argued that this case was similar to Calder v. Jones (465 U.S. 783 (1984)), in which the US Supreme Court found that publishing a slanderous article in a newspaper was similar to sending a mailbomb (for jurisdictional purposes).
        • However, unlike Calder, Lidov’s article was not directed to a Texas audience, did not refer to Texas, nor did it talk about Revell’s activities in Texas.
  • The general rule is that one cannot purposefully avail themselves of “some forum somewhere.” Due process requires that the defendant’s conduct and connection with the forum State are such that he could reasonably anticipate being sued there.
    • Lidov swore he didn’t even know Revell lived in Texas at the time of the suit.