Ohio Supreme Court Rules Commenter in Virginia Can Be Brought to Court in Ohio | DomainInvesting.com

Ohio Supreme Court Rules Commenter in Virginia Can Be Brought to Court in Ohio

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I read an interesting Ohio Supreme Court ruling, and I think it would behoove anyone who posts comments on Internet forums and blogs to read. In the case of Kauffman Racing Equip., L.L.C., v. Roberts, the state Supreme Court ruled that a Virginia resident, Scott Roberts, will need to respond to a court case brought against him in Ohio by Kauffman Racing Equipment (KRE), an Ohio company that does business throughout the United States.

KRE claimed that “Roberts posted numerous rancorous criticisms of KRE on various websites devoted to automobile racing equipment and related subjects.” From my review of the comments, they are similar in affect to those I see posted on domain forums and blogs about some of the domain companies with whom many of us do business. Here are a couple that were listed in the Court’s slip opinion referenced above:

  • “Now, I have and have had since the day the block was delivered, a USELESS BLOCK.  I didn’t say worthless!  I plan to get a lot of mileage out of  it[.]  And when I’m [sic] done Steve Kauffman will be able to attest to its worth.”
  • “You don’t seem to understand.  As far as Steve kauffinan [sic] is concerned the issue is resolved. * * * Again, this is not to get a resolution.  I have a much bigger and dastardly plan than that and this is the perfect place to start. * * * (LOL) * * *  Here is another good board to visit! * * * Just trying to help other potential victims.”  (Emoticons omitted.)

The crux of the case is that Scott Roberts felt the Ohio court didn’t have jurisdiction since he is not a resident of the state of Ohio. After KRE filed its case in an Ohio court in 2006, the court ruled that it didn’t have jurisdiction, and the company appealed to the Fifth District Court of Appeals, which reversed the trial court’s decision.

In it’s slip opinion issued a week ago, the Ohio Supreme Court ruled that because Roberts’ comments would cause harm to the Ohio company in the state Ohio, the case could be brought against Roberts in Ohio. I have no legal background so I won’t get into a discussion about why the court made its findings, but I do think it’s important for people in this business to take note.

If you post something defamatory or negative about a company in another state, you may not be immune from a court case in that other state, which can obviously be expensive and burdensome. People often post things rapidly out of frustration or anger, and as the saying goes, you can’t unring a bell. There’s an interesting article about the case on RCPF.org.


About The Author: Elliot Silver is an Internet entrepreneur and publisher of DomainInvesting.com. Elliot is also the founder and President of Top Notch Domains, LLC, a company that has sold seven figures worth of domain names in the last five years. Please read the DomainInvesting.com Terms of Use page for additional information about the publisher, website comment policy, disclosures, and conflicts of interest.


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Comments (40)

    BullS

    That why it is a good idea to have an address in Iran or N.Korea so they cannot get you.

    Only in America this kind of BS lawsuits goes around.

    June 19th, 2010 at 1:55 pm

    Jason

    What if these companies deserve the negative criticism? Doesn’t politics hinge on performance? People read product and service comments to determine whether they’ll make a sale.

    It seems that freedom of speech is nonexistent. People should stop leaving comments. Too many regulations. The company will need to prove that their sales were influenced by the comments.

    I think web users should avoid leaving comments. As with case such as this, there’s the local, U.S. District, State Supreme, and US Supreme Court. Whenever an appeals court rules against a prior decision , the plaintiff and defendant will have to have to go back into court again.

    It can take years, or it may not happen at all, for a case to move all the way up to the Supreme Court. I think it is best to avoid leaving comments on blogs and forums. People can read the information, but it seems to be a waste of time since there’s now legal repercussions attributed to actual facts.

    I guess it’s acceptable for companies to take advantage of their customers, but not appropriate for customers to criticize a company. Most companies wouldn’t take a legal court of action due to the negative publicity. The domain companies that domainers deal with depend on referrals and their brand recognition.

    It’s like a poster mentioning how unsatisfied they are with a product, and then they mention the owner of the company. Companies depend on reviews to generate business. It they act unethical, then people just have to bite their tongue.

    Maybe the company made bad business decisions, and now need alternatives to defend their case. The Internet is becoming another political arena. Soon everyone will be censored for saying anything. Your article irritates me even more.

    It is the same reason Mathews v. Eldridge case ruined the life of a hard working citizen. After lengthy years of court case, and even going to the US Supreme Court, the agency couldn’t unfix the damage done to a hardworking American who devoted his life to being an American. As I’ve studied about all aspects of government in graduate school, it just goes to show that you have to fight for constitutional rights.

    As with the case, it will spark some major controversy, especially when websites depend on traffic and their customers. Unpopular cases have a way with ruining an entire industry.

    June 19th, 2010 at 4:34 pm

    Jason

    Does the same law apply to writing articles on companies? Should bloggers avoid making a comment about another company to avoid conflict?

    That would definitely influence the writing landscape. I guess that companies can act unethical, but a customer has to accept their actions. They can only offer positive comments.

    June 19th, 2010 at 4:42 pm

    Jason

    The case regarding the roulette domain should be thrown out. The rich and powerful seem to always squash the little people to get ahead.

    A judge once sued a dry cleaner for thousands because his plants were lost. They offered to pay for them, but he file suit based on money he’ll be losing without having them.

    California is struggling because they failed to properly implement the three strike’s law. Now the school system is going through a disaster.

    The law was written to put away violent offenders, but California began applying the third strike to nonviolent crimes such as stealing a piece of pizza and writing a bad check for a hundred dollars.

    If the company wins the case, then it will create a negative backlash on the Internet, as a whole. It may one of many cases to equip companies, which will then require many blogging companies to warn people about leaving negative posts.

    June 19th, 2010 at 4:53 pm

    Jeroen

    Doesn’t freedom of speech exist in the USA? Why do many US citizens have this ‘suing’ mentality ?

    June 19th, 2010 at 5:30 pm

    Michael Castello

    I suggest anyone making critial/personal statements, start your comment with “In my opinion”.

    June 19th, 2010 at 6:00 pm

    Jason

    Apparently not. People don’t have rights. Money plays a factor in motivating lawsuits. Wonder if the company lost money in result of the posts.

    June 19th, 2010 at 6:12 pm

    Jason

    Writers should write a warning on their blog that states all articles are a personal perception.

    “In my opinion” may also provoke a negative response. i think it’s because the accused made reference to the credibility of the owner and his company.

    While he was probably being sarcastic, the company probably has deep pockets to protect their reputation. Another one of those cases which will cost both sides a lot of money.

    I suggest people don’t leave anything negative they basically have no rights. That was all thrown out after the Patriot Act. Lawsuits are not cheap. Imagine if the man lived on the West Coast.

    June 19th, 2010 at 6:22 pm

    Elliot

    @ Jason

    From my Disclaimer:

    “Elliot Silver (the “publisher” of this blog) is not an attorney, financial advisor, nor an accountant. He is a direct marketer and a domain investor. Any legal, domain investment, ethical, financial, investment, or other type of advice given on this blog is only opinion and not fact. Do your own research before acting on anything that is discussed on this website.”

    June 19th, 2010 at 6:25 pm

    Jason

    @Elliot,

    You disclaimer is effective. Basically, it’s the comments people leave that can create problems. Have to keep worthless out of anything, even if we have the facts to prove it.

    This is off topic. I haven’t made a purchase in a month. I picked up a few hand registered domains.

    ScentedCondoms.com
    MiniatureGoldSet.com

    Do think these domains have any commercial value? Would their be any suitors for the domain names? Let me know. Thanks.

    Jason

    June 19th, 2010 at 6:47 pm

    Elliot

    @ Jason

    Maybe to condom companies or gold companies.

    June 19th, 2010 at 6:47 pm

    Jason

    @Elliot,

    Correction on the second domain, it’s

    miniaturegolfset.com

    Thanks

    Jason

    June 19th, 2010 at 6:48 pm

    Elliot

    @ Jason

    I didn’t know there were mini golf sets. I thought people got one putter/club.

    June 19th, 2010 at 6:49 pm

    Jason

    @Elliot,

    They make them for kids. There are 93,100 keyword searches. in addition, it has 1,082 popular searches a month.

    In Google, it pulls up 948,000 results. On Estibot & Valuate it appraises for $490. I thought since many online stores sell a miniature golf set, there may be some demand for it.

    June 19th, 2010 at 6:54 pm

    Elliot

    @ Jason

    I don’t know enough about that business to know what it’s worth. I don’t believe there are close to 93,000 exact match keyword search a month though.

    I think we should keep this blog post on topic though.

    June 19th, 2010 at 6:56 pm

    Jason

    When you put in the keywords, “miniature golf set” is at the top of four others below it, which also reference kids miniature golf set and prices. They even make indoor ones too. Not sure whether a company will look to develop a website based on the item. Thanks.

    June 19th, 2010 at 6:58 pm

    Elliot

    @ Jason

    I recommend posting questions like these on DNForum’s appraisal section:

    http://www.dnforum.com/f4/

    June 19th, 2010 at 7:00 pm

    Jason

    @Elliot,

    Thanks for the info. I left a question about it on another one of your posts. I thought it would be a good opportunity to bring it up again since you’re around. However, we’ll continue the discussion at another time on that domain.

    As for the legal issues surrounding the posts, I think it is best to avoid making negative references to companies since they stand to lose revenue from it. Their argument is based on credibility and reputation.

    Essentially, even using “in my opinion” may be creating conflict. I don’t think the case will go past the Ohio Supreme Court unless the man brings up that his First Amendment rights are being violated. Thousands of cases never make it into the US Supreme Court.

    I assume the direct reference to the owner and the product, as well as forwarding traffic to another location to ridicule the company have hurt their business.

    As for negative comments about appraisal systems, they do warn that appraisals are only their personal assessment, and it shouldn’t be trusted to buy or sell a domain.

    Basically, it is up to an investor to use the information at hand to assess the value of a domain. In my opinion, it is best to keep negative comments out of the discussion. But I think it’s acceptable to make reference to any process as a whole than to name a company. Thanks.

    June 19th, 2010 at 7:08 pm

    Elliot

    @ Jason

    I don’t do consulting or appraisals, so the discussion is best had in a different venue where others can advise. You’ll probably get more and better feedback elsewhere.

    June 19th, 2010 at 7:09 pm

    Jason

    I was making reference to what you mentioned about some posts that are directly referencing domain companies that we do business with on a daily basis.

    I assume that saying that ____ is a worthless appraisal system or that ______ is a bad domain auction auction will create some issues. I’m not sure which posts can put someone in hot water.

    Will you be able to use some examples so others know which assessments to avoid when making such comments? I have leave now. This was an interesting discussion because the man’s constitutional rights will be an issue. It seems he’s ready to fight the overturn.

    In my opinion, the company is wasting their time and money going after the guy. They will likely lose business in result of the case.

    I did provide some content to jump-start the discussion. I’ve studied constitution law every day for the past three years. Anyways, thanks for the info and the reference.

    p.s. the stats on the miniaturegolfset.com
    Avg Search Results (keyword): 93,100
    Average Monthly Searches: 1,082

    Jason

    June 19th, 2010 at 7:23 pm

    Elliot

    @ Jason

    I have no legal background and don’t want to speculate about the things that could cause someone legal trouble. There are a lot of litigious people out there.

    This post is just a head’s up that a state Supreme Court ruled that a person from out state could be sued in their state because of comments made online.

    June 19th, 2010 at 7:33 pm

    Jason

    @Elliot,

    Thanks for the article. “From my review of the comments, they are similar in affect to those I see posted on domain forums and blogs about some of the domain companies with whom many of us do business”

    Any examples that can be used to demonstrate which comments fall into this category? I know you don’t want to engage into any discussions concerning the case, however, I don’t people leave comments because they think they won’t be held accountable for them in another state.

    The courts may have to refer to past cases, if there are any, in which another person duplicated the same efforts. If another person used to Internet to cause another company to lose substantial business, then maybe the case is beneficial only to companies.

    Maybe the man made it worse, mainly thinking his actions were not deemed detrimental in another state, and that the company would not go after him. In his responses he mentioned the owner and the bad quality of the product. In addition, he probably started another board to further ruin the company.

    I can comment on this article all day long, but I have to take an exam on public policy. If possible, I would to see a mock message of others that make references to harm the domain industry. Using a mock sample. If you don’t want to crack the shell on the case, then I understand. I know that you are warning others to watch out. Thanks.

    June 19th, 2010 at 7:57 pm

    Tim Davids

    in my opinion estibot estimates suck.

    😉

    June 19th, 2010 at 8:18 pm

    quiet Sunday

    Jason, weren’t you recently warned about turning a thread into “all about me”?
    Posting and advertising your domains on E’s blog.

    J, I get tired of reading your dissertations. If you are going to post, think before you write and elliminate some of the trivial.

    Elliot, you may delete my thread. I just wanted to say what many people are too polite to say.

    June 20th, 2010 at 11:06 am

    Jason

    @Quiet Sunday,

    Thanks for your assessment. Don’t car much for it, but thanks anyways. Besides, your off topic.

    June 20th, 2010 at 1:16 pm

    serene sunday

    Jason, you claim to be a writer, yet your grammar is horrendous. In your last three sentences you have made two third grade errors. The word is anyway. not anyways.
    “your off topic” should be “you’re (you are) off topic”.

    Come on man, simply writing millions off words does not make you a writer.

    June 20th, 2010 at 2:34 pm

    Cartoonz

    sounds like someone should have picked MiniatureCondoms.com instead…

    June 20th, 2010 at 3:27 pm

    Jason

    Serene Sunday,

    I wrote the post using my i-phone. If I make any mistakes, I can go back to change a post. I’m not trying to start any conflict. You probably won’t see me on this blog anymore because I plan to invest more time into developing some websites.

    When people write posts, most of them are short. Most posters leave quick comments that have errors. Even some of Elliot’s posts have some duplicate words. i.e. not exact… Today was a good day day. I have been thinking about…..

    Once I send a post, I can’t change it. If you browse my past posts, you will notice that I leave messages to make some random grammar errors. I don’t have the time to revise every post because it is not important. It’s only a post.

    I don’t mind the criticism. Moreover, I don’t need a lesson on writing. It’s easy to judge one short response. People use text messaging to write short responses. We live in a society that bases success on material gains.

    “Thanks for the assessment.” That what I meant to write. “I don’t care what you think about my posts.” Try typing a post using an I-Phone. Maybe you’re too perfect to make mistakes.

    I don’t use this blog to promote my domains. Moreover, I don’t have quality domains to brag about. Most domain investors visit here to gloat about their success. My goal was to make a sale to make my graduation. I never found the right help on this blog.

    I shared my assessment of the court case. I left Elliot a message regarding the two domains. I never received any feedback on them. After I wrote a few posts, I mentioned the domains to determine whether they have any potential.

    Enjoy the post because it will my last. I have nothing to prove here. Good luck on your domain investing. You should also look into grade school tutoring.

    Thanks.

    @Elliot,

    Thanks for your help. DNForum.com charges a membership fee. I’ll read some books, or find another investor to help me. I’m sure there are plenty of domain investors willing to give me advice. I appreciate your help. Thanks again. Good luck on your success.

    Jason

    June 20th, 2010 at 4:26 pm

    Elliot

    @ Jason

    Thank you for your comments here. I wish you all the best with your domain investing.

    June 20th, 2010 at 4:38 pm

    Jason

    @Cartoonz,

    I just had to leave one last comment: Maybe I should have registered that name. You definitely would be the number #1 customer.

    Most domain investors on this blog only care about profit. They always look to criticize others. I would rather visit a blog that provides useful information instead of dealing with people who look down at others.

    Every time I leave a message regarding a domain, people are too quick to judge. Essentially, they assume that I’m leaving spam or that I’m trying to promote my domains. One person listed their domain name – BowlPack.com. They received a reply from an interested buyer.

    @Sunday,

    I never bragged about my writing abilities. At least I’ve helped hundreds of people advance. What have you done lately? Frank Schilling’s watch auction post went off topic on several occasions. No commentor was instructed to stay on topic.

    I provided a few assessments on the case, but I receive no credit in return. I’m not a kid trying to get attention. I’m a person that is trying to make a living.

    Although I won’t make my graduate school graduation this Saturday, I have no regrets. As long as I know that I worked hard, then maybe one day I’ll have an opportunity to receive a fair chance. If domain investing doesn’t work out, then there is always my education to fall back on. I’m a persistent person who is willing to make sacrifices to help others.

    Good luck on domain investing. I’m signing off.

    June 20th, 2010 at 4:46 pm

    quiet Sunday

    J,
    No one told you to go away. We were making suggestions on how to improve your postings.

    I will say the first mistake is trying to write a lot with a smartphone.

    June 20th, 2010 at 4:47 pm

    Jason

    @Elliot,

    You’re a smart investor that deserves credit for operating in a tough industry. I wish you the best of luck on Burbank.com.

    I will definitely check it out. I may even use the website because I live close to Burbank.

    I do appreciate your feedback. You helped me save money. I would have wasted a lot more money on making bad purchases.

    While I may never reach even 1% of your success, I do respect that you offer people good advice. Thanks again. Good luck!

    Jason

    June 20th, 2010 at 4:53 pm

    Elliot

    @ Jason

    “Most domain investors on this blog only care about profit.”

    1) I make a lot more money selling domain names than I do writing this blog, yet I continue to blog every day. It’s not always about making a profit here and that’s for sure.

    2) I don’t think you know “most domain investors” who comment on my blog, so please cut the generalizations.

    3) People don’t do any investment activity without aiming to make a profit.

    June 20th, 2010 at 4:53 pm

    Jason

    Sunday,

    It seems that I’m a clown on the board. I know that I write too much on the blog. Sometimes I feel like a clown on this board. I endured criticism for visiting the Elliot’s Blog too much. I would hear, “You’re on Elliot’s Blog again?” Or, all you do is go on Elliot’s Blog.” However, Elliot would also receive compliments on his skills.

    He also commands respect here. Because I tried hard to make my graduation, I may be a little frustrated. I planned it three years ago. It’s very hard to make a living in Southern California, especially when the area does little to help me. I found myself sandwiched between a Writer’s strike and citywide layoffs.

    I was looking for pointers to make a sale. I never accomplished my goal. Instead of writing articles to earn money, I spent too much time cold calling businesses, writing e-mails, reading blogs, and practically breathing domains. That put me in a bad position.

    I don’t find domain investing to be easy. It is extremely hard. Businesses will always object to purchasing a domain. It’s a tough industry. That’s the main reason I respect Elliot and other investors. They know how to operate in the domain name industry. I want to learn how to be a good domain investor. I also want to have a life beyond domain investing.

    I read an article on Frank’s blog last night. He mentioned that sometimes a sale may not work because it is not the right time. He said it is better to wait then to make a bad deal. Maybe I’ll use that philosophy to take it easy.

    For now, I’ll write more on my blogs. While I’m not an expert, I do offer some good information on how to submit to search engines and ways to save money on domain registration fees. Once I finish my thesis this Summer, maybe I’ll check out this blog again. There’s a ton of information here. Good luck to everyone. Sorry about over writing on the legal board.

    Thanks
    Jason

    June 20th, 2010 at 5:16 pm

    Jason

    @Elliot,

    That analogy was a way to make reference about a few domainers. My assessment provoked same response. When you always tell me to stay on topic or to visit another blog to find information, sometimes I feel that I wasted my time reading articles on leaving comments. You invest time in following a blog, but then your told to post questions on another blog.

    Of course, everyone looks to make a profit. Everyone has to make a living, even if they have millions in the bank. In recent time, I have found more criticism regarding my questions. I don’t have the time or the money to use DNForum.com. While people do gloat about their skills here, they do take the time to offer their suggestions.

    I usually ask until I receive an answer or an opinion. I don’t know everyone on this discussion board. If someone mentions that I’m a bad writer, then I have to respond. Domain companies have to respond to unethical claims because their business depends on their customers.

    I assure you that these posts show up in the search engines. If you put in executiveheadshots.com, any discussion regarding the domain is in the search engine. The same goes for any of the domains that domain investors list on here. Word Press comments show up right away.

    I understand that you want to clear up that analogy. When you mentioned I was spamming or that certain domain names are bad, people may find those comments in the search engines. I wouldn’t want to purchase a bad domain, especially if an investor such as yourself determines them to hold no value. I never list my domains on this blog to promote them. I am mostly looking for feedback.

    To clear up what I mentioned about domain investors, I assume or it’s my opinion that most domain investors look only to profit, but I discovered that many do provide consultation services to help businesses succeed. While the domain industry seems to be about profit, as it should be, there are good amounts of domain investors that are willing to help newcomers and others to succeed.

    Thanks.
    Jason

    June 20th, 2010 at 5:40 pm

    Jason

    Excuse my grammar errors. There are a few in the previous post. Should use my computer instead. Thanks.

    June 20th, 2010 at 5:42 pm

    Elliot

    @ Jason

    I understand what you’re saying, but imagine if you are giving a speech in front of a crowd of 1,000 people who are interested in learning about creative writing. All of a sudden someone comes up to the microphone to ask a question and they spend 10 minutes asking you something about domain names. Perhaps you will be nice enough to answer, but the 999 other people who are there to hear your speech about creative writing will be annoyed at the guy who won’t give up the microphone to ask off-topic questions.

    I am sorry if I don’t answer your off topic questions, but I get enough flack from my Wife for spending time writing blog posts that it’s difficult to spend even more time continually following up to off-topic posts. I’d rather give vague or non-answers than take more time away from my life doing research when it impacts my “real” life.

    I give a lot to my blog and can’t afford to give more than I already do. I feel that I’ve given enough info on other posts and pointed you in the right direction both in terms of domain discussion forums like dnforum and namepros and the names of professional domain consultants who actually do domain consulting.

    Honestly, if I really wanted to be doing private domain consulting, I would and it would be very expensive. I stopped doing it because I don’t have the time to dedicate to it.

    June 20th, 2010 at 5:48 pm
    June 20th, 2010 at 8:41 pm

    Jason

    @Elliot,

    I know that you put a ton of work into your blog. It is time consuming. I get in trouble with investing too much time in writing as well as with researching domains.

    I apologize about writing long posts and for asking too many questions. I guess I’m eager to learn from the best.

    One reason I may ask you many questions because you always respond right away. I rarely receive feedback from other blogs. You answered mostly all of my questions. I do appreciate your help.

    I’ll keep a log on the questions I plan to ask in the future. Will keep the posts to a minimum to give others a chance too. I don’t want to be wear out my welcome. Thanks for all your help.

    Jason

    June 21st, 2010 at 4:43 am

    Las Vegas Lawyer

    In my opinion, blogging is the way to express feelings or opinions about certain topics. If your comment contains undesirable words or sentences that destruct the capability of the author then, the blogger will be banned or worst, the author can file lawsuit.

    June 22nd, 2010 at 6:20 am

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