Binion v. O’Neal

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



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.


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.


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




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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