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Subject Matter Jurisdiction

Any lawsuit, whether it involves cyberlaw issues or not, must demonstrate subject matter jurisdiction before a court will allow it to proceed. Indeed, a lack of subject matter jurisdiction may wrest a case from a judge, even after years of work. Judges, therefore, are fanatical about assuring subject matter jurisdiction exists before proceeding with any other matters. It is important to have all “ducks in a row” with regard to Internet jurisdictional before filing a lawsuit. Anticipate the other side’s objections to jurisdiction and have responses at the ready.

Do not rely on a single basis for jurisdiction. Most cases provide ample support for jurisdiction under multiple theories. The more jurisdictional theories the case can support, the less likely the other side will be able to convince the court to dismiss the case for want of jurisdiction. With multiple theories in play, even if the other side is able to kick out a jurisdictional basis near the end of trial, the court still may have justification for ruling on the case.

Conversely, a defendant can rest assured the plaintiff did not choose the particular jurisdiction with the defendant’s interests in mind. Therefore, it is just as advisable for the defendant to thoroughly research the issue of jurisdiction. Although not nearly as satisfying as a jury verdict, getting the other side’s case tossed early due to a jurisdictional technicality can save hundreds of thousands of dollars, and years of legal wrangling.

Brett Trout

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