fbpx
Monday, 29 July 2019 16:42

U. S. District Judge Dismisses Repairify’s Lawsuit Against AirPro

Written by

Index

 

In the lawsuit, asTech pointed out that AirPro Sales and Marketing Vice President Frank LaViola has a home in Houston, but Judge Werlein wrote, “Plaintiff infers that based on his title, LaViola must be responsible for the allegedly defamatory statements in Defendant’s advertising campaign (which Defendant calls the ‘Truth Campaign’), but Defendant produces uncontroverted evidence that LaViola was hired in January 2019 and ‘was not involved in the planning, development or initial execution of the Truth Campaign,’ was not ‘involved in any aspect of creating the Truth Campaign,’ does not control the content of Defendant’s website, and ‘did not direct, order or authorize any of the posts complained of in asTech’s complaint. Given this uncontroverted proof regarding the facts that underlie the Plaintiff’s claims, LaViola’s mere presence in Texas does not support Plaintiff’s assertion of specific personal jurisdiction.”

 

Judge Werlein also rejected consideration based on the fact that two percent of AirPro’s customer base is located in Texas, resulting in an attempt to hire staff in that location. He stated, “allegation or evidence that these minimum contacts have any relation to the allegedly false statements that form the basis of Plaintiff’s claims.”

 

Insisting that AirPro’s comments must be demonstrated to specifically target Texans or reference Texas, Judge Werlein wrote, “In the absence of any statements by Defendant about or expressly directed at Texas, the mere fact that Plaintiff is a citizen of Texas is insufficient to establish specific jurisdiction under both parties compete nationwide ‘effects test,’ particularly where and not only–or even primarily–in Texas,” Werlein wrote.

 

Though asTech’s argument for jurisdiction was supported by the claim that Texans could directly interact with AirPro through ORION and the site’s “Contact Us” feature, the judge stated, “Plaintiff argues that these features make Defendant’s website active, or at least interactive, under the Zippo test used by the Fifth Circuit. [However, asTech hadn’t claimed] there is anything false, misleading or otherwise improper about the interactive portions of Defendant’s website.”

 

Regarding asTech’s disputes with AirPro’s “Truth Campaign” page, Werlein wrote, “Defendant produces uncontroverted evidence–and indeed Plaintiff does not argue to the contrary–that the portions of the website containing the statements that Plaintiff identifies as false and misleading are not interactive and do not allow for the exchange of information.”