Binion v. O’Neal

95 F. Supp. 3d 1055 (E.D. Mich. 2015)

 

RULE:

Under the Calder "effects" test, a plaintiff must establish (1) the defendant intentionally committed a tortious action which was expressly aimed for dissemination in the forum state, and (2) the brunt of the effects of the actions are felt within the forum state.

FACTS:

Plaintiff is an individual who resides in Macomb County, Michigan. Plaintiff suffers from a rare genetic condition called ectodermal dysplasia, which causes cosmetic abnormalities in the hair, nails, sweat glands, and teeth. O'Neal is a former professional basketball player residing in Florida and Massachusetts. In April of 2014, when Plaintiff was approximately 23 years old, Plaintiff posted a number of photographs of himself on his public Instagram account. O'Neal obtained a photograph of Plaintiff and posted it on his Instagram and Twitter accounts, side-by-side with a photograph of O'Neal mockingly contorting his face to look like Plaintiff's. O'Neal has an estimated half-million Instagram followers and 8.46 million Twitter followers.

ISSUE:

Is there evidence that O’Neal’s posts were expressly aimed on Michigan and does the "effects" test apply?

ANSWER:

No

CONCLUSION:

Plaintiff cannot establish that O'Neal's posts were "expressly aimed for dissemination" in Michigan. Nor is there any allegation that O'Neal took affirmative steps to direct the posts to a Michigan audience. Instead, O'Neal's posts were meant for a national or even international audience. Here, the only connection to Michigan is Plaintiff's injury. This, without "something more" is insufficient to establish personal jurisdiction over O'Neal under the "effects" test.

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