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Brannies v. Internet Roi, Inc.

United States District Court, S.D. Georgia, Savannah Division

December 4, 2014

MICHAEL W. BRANNIES, Plaintiff
v.
INTERNET ROI, INC., D/B/A AMERICAN OVERLOOK, Defendant

For Michael W. Brannies, Plaintiff: Dwight T. Feemster, LEAD ATTORNEY, Matthew M. Bush, Duffy & Feemster, LLC, Savannah, GA.

For Internet ROI, Inc., doing business as American Overlook, Defendant: Rachel Young Fields, Shawn A. Kachmar, LEAD ATTORNEYS, Hunter Maclean, PC, Savannah, GA.

Page 1361

ORDER

G. R. Smith, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

In this defamation case plaintiff Michael W. Brannies contends that defendant Internet ROI, Inc. (ROI) published an image falsely implying that he had sexually assaulted a minor. Doc. 1-1, ¶ ¶ 5-11; doc. 7 at 1.[1] The image could be seen by Georgia residents on the internet, doc. 1-1 ¶ 8, though ROI says it was generated and internet-published in Massachusetts. Doc. 26 at 6. Having removed the matter from state court under diversity jurisdiction, doc. 1 at 2, ROI, an out-of-state resident, moves to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction and insufficient service. Doc. 7. That motion is before the district judge.

Before the undersigned is plaintiff's motion to compel ROI to respond to a jurisdictional discovery request. Doc. 25; see also doc. 19 (court order authorizing only " personal jurisdiction discovery" ). To establish personal jurisdiction over ROI based on its Georgia contacts, doc. 25 at 4, Brannies wants data on ROI's website pricing for third-party advertisers. Id. at 9-10; doc. 29 at 3. He says he has shown between 49,000 and 150,000 monthly ROI website visitors from Georgia. Doc. 25 at 5 n. 6. And ROI has already admitted that

Page 1362

it derives its revenue from the sale of advertising on its site. Id. at 7.

ROI's website, plaintiff further maintains, " interacts with each user, collecting information regarding all of the viewers, and translating that information into income." Id. at 6. ROI's Georgia-based income, Brannies insists, is relevant to the showing he must make under the personal jurisdiction standards set forth below. He reminds that ROI deliberately sends news and information onto the internet that it knows will be viewed by Georgians, and those viewers fuel at least part of ROFs ad revenue. Id. at 7-8. Ad revenue reflects viewer visit to ROFs site. Id. at 8. So pricing is relevant to establishing contacts with Georgia. Id. ROI disagrees. Doc. 29.

I. GOVERNING STANDARDS

A. Motions To Compel

The discovery rules " require the disclosure of all relevant information so that ultimate resolution of disputed issues in any civil action may be based on a full and accurate understanding of the true facts. . . ." Gonzalez v. ETourandTravel, Inc., 2014 WL 1250034 at * 2 (M.D. Fla. Mar. 26, 2014) (quotes and cite omitted). Hence, " [t]he scope of discovery under [Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(b)(1)] is broad and includes 'discovery regarding any matter, not privileged, which is relevant to the claims or defense of any party involved in the pending action.' Hickman v. Taylor, 329 U.S. 495, 507-08, 67 S.Ct. 385, 91 L.Ed. 451 (1947)." Id. Those resisting discovery must " show specifically how the objected-to request is unreasonable or otherwise unduly burdensome." Id.

Claims and defenses determine discovery's scope. Chudasama v. Mazda Motor Corp., 123 F.3d 1353, 1368 (11th Cir. 1997). " 'Evidence is relevant if it has any tendency to make the existence of any fact or consequence more or less probable than it would be without the evidence.' United States v. Capers, 708 F.3d 1286, 1308 (11th Cir. 2013)." Gonzalez, 2014 WL 1250034 at * 2. Here, the principles by which ...


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