I’m trying to learn for my Business Law class and I’m stuck. Can you help?
June 29, 2020
Mrs. Jane Johnson,
Dear Mrs. Jane,
RE:APPLICABLE LAW TO YOUR CASE (SMITH V. JOHNSON)
Following your mention that you really do not understand what is going on in your case and what your prospects are, I wish to write you this letter to explain to you the applicable law and how it applies to your case.
First, it is important to remind you the issues surrounding your case before delving into the applicable laws in those issues. Your case, Smith v. Johnson, is anchored on jurisdiction and substantive issues. Jurisdiction is the authority bestowed on a court to make legal decisions and judgement whilst substantive issue involves an issue where a substantive right or interest of a person has been violated. The jurisdiction issue is framed on the determination on whether the California district court has the authority to hear and determine your case. On the other hand, the substantive issues are the causes of action alleged by Douglas Smith against you. There are three substantive issues in your case, which include intentional infliction of emotional distress, invasion of privacy, and defamation.
Ad capitals where needed. On matters jurisdiction, literally translating to whether the California court has the authority to listen and determine your case given that you are a nonresident of California, the applicable law in this case is the due process clause under Section 1 in the fourteenth amendment that spells limitations on a court in exercising jurisdiction over nonresidents of a particular state. Further, under Section 410.10 of the Code of Civil Procedure, the California court may exercise jurisdiction on any basis but it has to be consistent with the federal Constitution. Concerning due process, the court can exercise jurisdiction over a person only if the defendant is present in the forum state or voluntarily submits to the court’s jurisdiction by signing a consent letter to have the case heard and determined in the forum state. However, using the California long-arm statute, the court can exercise jurisdiction on a nonresident defendant if it establishes that based on facts of a particular case, the defendant had certain minimum contacts with the forum state (where the case has been filed) such that going on with the case does not offend the notions of fair play and substantial justice. The long-arm statute is simply a statute that permits the court to exercise personal jurisdiction over a non-resident defendant based on acts committed by that person as long as the person has some sufficient connection with the forum state.
Practically, the due process law applies to your case in the sense that there are limitations on the California court hearing and ruling your case given that you are a nonresident of California. However, given that you have never stepped in California or you had forum-related activities what are those?that gave rise to the claims alleged, and you are not ready to have the case listened here in California doe sit matter if she wants it heard in CA? , then the California court can not exercise jurisdiction over you in the spirit of fair play and substantial justice.
For intentional infliction of emotional distress, the California law states that there must be elements of extreme and outrageous conduct by the defendant with intention of causing emotional distress; plaintiff suffering severe emotional distress; and a proximate and actual causation of emotional distress by defendant’s outrageous conduct. An outrageous conducted is one deemed calculated to cause mental distress of severe kind or so extreme to be tolerated in a civilized community. In the case of California, to prove a claim of intentional infliction of emotional distress, the defendant’s action has to be outrageous; the action has to be reckless or aimed at causing emotional distress; and defendant’s action causes the plaintiff to suffer emotional distress.
In your case, Smith has to prove that there were elements of extreme and outrageous conduct by you with the intention of causing emotional distress. Further, Smith will have to prove how he suffered extreme emotional distress and how your conduct was connected to that suffering. However, this could be difficult for Smith to prove given that your website was meant for producers to air their grievances and pass warning to others about rogue customers, and in no way such an action amounts to extreme or outrageous conduct.
For invasion of privacy, the plaintiff must allege a legally protected privacy interest, reasonable expectation of privacy, and serious invasion of privacy interest. In the case of California, there is the California Penal Code Section 647 (j) PC that pronounces itself on the invasion of privacy statute in regard to where a person has reasonable expectation of privacy. The two classes of legally recognized privacy interests are:
- Interests in precluding the dissemination (prevent the spreading of information) or misuse of sensitive and confidential information (informational privacy);and
- Interests in making intimate personal decisions or conducting personal activities without observation, intrusion, or interference (autonomy privacy).
The above applicable law applies to your case, where Smith having alleged for invasion of privacy, he has to prove a legally protected privacy interest, reasonable expectation of privacy, and a serious invasion of his privacy interestswhich would be? . However, you still have an upper hand on defeating Smith on this cause of action because as much he might succeed in showing his legally protected privacy interest (s), you will still prevail maybe reword as you don’t want to promise an outcome. over him since there is no conduct of yours that amounts to serious invasion of privacy interest. This is because the court would place the burden of proof on the plaintiff in showing the association of your conducts with invasion of his privacy interest.
For claim for defamation (statement hurting a person’s reputation), the Plaintiffs must prove how the posted statement that is false and defamatory, hurts/harms one’s reputation or livelihood. Cal. Civ. Code 46 asserts that a slander can be communicated through “any mechanical or other means” and given that the alleged statements were passed through the internet, therefore through “mechanical” means. Slander as per Cal. Civ. Code 46 is defined as a “false and unprivileged publication, orally uttered, and also communications by radio or any other mechanical means…” On the other hand, libel is defined by the same code as a “false and unprivileged publication by writing, printing, picture, effigy, or other fixed representation to the eye…” Thus, slander is communicated orally while libel is through written words.
The above code applies to your case in the sense that Smith has to prove that the post on your website was false and defamatory, and it hurt his reputation. However, in as much as the post may have hurt his reputation, the post itself was not false and defamatory. Actually, the post was accompanied with a video to detail the true picture of what happened in the exchange between Smith and Brent, and thus claim is hard to be substantiated by Smith and likely to be dismissed.
From the above overview of applicable laws and how they apply to your case, there is solid ground for the motion to dismiss your case. However, to avoid going through the time- consuming and strenuous litigation process that could potentially be costly with time, I would advise you on the idea of having some sort of settlement proposal to Douglas Smith.
Feel free to go through the above applicable laws and how they apply to your case, seek clarity on anything, and let me have your feedback.Tell her she can reach back out to you if she has questions.She isn’t going to want to do it herself – she pays you for that.