An internet website operator was deemed not liable, and not subject to a lawsuit in New York, for alleged defamatory online postings made on the operator’s website, out of state, by a third party.
In Foster v. Matlock, Supreme Court Justice Joan Kenney ruled that an out-of-state resident cannot be subject to personal jurisdiction in New York unless it can be proven that New York’s long-arm statute confers jurisdiction over the out-of-state resident due to the out of state resident’s contacts with New York. Specifically, defamation actions were found to be exempt from New York’s long arm statute.
Additionally, the Court ruled that federal Communications Decency Act (47 USC §230) provides that internet service providers are immune from defamation suits resulting from the exercise of their traditional editorial functions, such as deciding whether to publish a particular item on their website, regardless if that item is defamatory.
Accordingly, it was found that the out of state website operator could not be sued in New York for posting alleged defamatory statements on her website. Any questions relating to this decision can be directed to Peter Moulinos.