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Brannies v. Internet Roi, Inc.

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

March 13, 2015

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 1366

ORDER

WILLIAM T. MOORE, JR., UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

Before the Court is Defendant Internet ROI, Inc.'s Motion to Dismiss. (Doc. 7.) For the following reasons, Defendant's motion is GRANTED and Plaintiff's complaint is DISMISSED. Plaintiff's Motion to Amend Complaint is DENIED.[1] The Clerk of Court is DIRECTED to close this case.

BACKGROUND

In this case, Defendant owns and operates an online news-based website. According to Plaintiff's complaint, Defendant's website included a photograph of Plaintiff above the headline " VIDEO: Homeless Man Does the Unthinkable to 10-Year-Old Girl in Public." (Doc. 1, Compl. ¶ 5.) A link under the photograph showed a grainy video of an " unkempt and confused looking individual entering a restaurant." (Id. ¶ 6.) The video describes a sexual assault the individual in the video allegedly committed against a ten-year-old girl. (Id.) While Plaintiff's photograph appeared above the headline, he was not the individual depicted in the video. (Id.)

According to Plaintiff, the photo and associated headline inferred that Plaintiff was the individual who committed the sexual assault. (Id.) Based on Defendant's use of the photo, Plaintiff filed a complaint in the State Court of Chatham County alleging libel per se and negligent infliction of emotional distress. (Id. ¶ ¶ 4-14.) Defendant timely removed the case to this Court. (Doc. 1.)

In its Motion to Dismiss, Defendant argues that it is not subject to personal jurisdiction in this Court because it has never transacted any business in and has no contacts with the state of Georgia. (Doc. 7 at 3-7.) In this regard, Defendant reasons that its news-based website, which includes advertisements, is not sufficient under Georgia law to subject it to personal jurisdiction in this state. (Id. at 3-6.) In response, Plaintiff argues this Court has personal jurisdiction because Defendant transacts and solicits business in Georgia given that some Georgia residents either access the website or follow its advertising

Page 1367

links.[2] (Doc. 13 at 5-7.)

ANALYSIS

I. STANDARD OF REVIEW

In response to a motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction when no evidentiary hearing is held, the plaintiff has the burden of proving a prima facie case of jurisdiction with respect to the contesting defendant. Robinson v. Giarmarco & Bill, P.C.,74 F.3d 253, 255 (11th Cir. 1996) (quoting Madara v. Hall,916 F.2d 1510, 1514 (11th Cir. 1990)). To meet this standard, the plaintiff must present sufficient evidence concerning jurisdiction to survive a motion for directed verdict. Id. The complaint's allegations that are uncontroverted ...


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