Citation: Falwell v. Cohn, 2003 WL 751130 (W.D. Va. Mar. 4, 2003).
Cohn owns a serious of domain names including jerryfalwell.com. Falwell sued. The court held that it did not have personal jurisdiction over Cohn, who lives and works in the western United States and maintained the website outside Virginia.
The court relied on the decision in Young v. New Haven Advocate, 315 F.3d 256 (4th Cir. 2002), which addressed the issue of personal jurisdiction in relation to the Internet. In Young, the Fourth Circuit held that Virginia did not have personal jurisdiction over two Connecticut newspapers based on certain allegedly slanderous material found on their websites. The Fourth Circuit ruled that the sites did not specifically target Virginians and could not lead to an exercise of jurisdiction.
The court in Cohn found that although Falwell and his university are in Virginia, Cohn did not manifest the requisite intent through his website to expressly target a Virginia audience. The court, therefore, refused to exercise jurisdiction.