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Georgalis v. Facebook, Inc.

United States District Court, N.D. Ohio, Eastern Division

June 18, 2018

NICHOLAS C. GEORGALIS, Plaintiff
v.
FACEBOOK, INC., Defendant

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          SOLOMON OLIVER, JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         I. INTRODUCTION

         Currently pending before the court are motions by both parties. The first is the motion of Defendant Facebook, Inc. (“Defendant” or “Facebook”) to dismiss (Mot. Dismiss, ECF No. 4) the complaint of Plaintiff Nicholas Georgalis (“Plaintiff” or “Georgalis”) (Compl., ECF No. 1). Plaintiff opposed the motion and moved for final judgment (Opp'n Mot. Dismiss/Mot. Final Judgment, ECF No. 8). Defendant filed a reply in support of the motion to dismiss, (Reply Mot. Dismiss, ECF No. 9), and Plaintiff filed a sur-reply (Sur-reply Mot. Dismiss, ECF No. 10). Defendant opposed Plaintiff's Motion for Final Judgment (Opp'n Mot. Final Judgment, ECF No. 11).

         In addition, Plaintiff filed a motion for leave to amend the complaint, and a motion for leave to further amend the complaint (Mots. Leave to Amend, ECF Nos. 12 and 13, respectively). Defendant filed a combined opposition to Plaintiff's motions for leave to amend (Opp'n Mots. Leave to Amend, ECF No. 14).

         For the reasons that follow, Defendant's Motion to Dismiss is granted. Plaintiff's Motions for Leave to Amend and for Final Judgment are denied.

         II. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff commenced this action on February 1, 2018, alleging that he is a Facebook user and Defendant is an Interactive Computer Service Provider (“ICSP”) (Compl. at 3.) According to the Complaint, Defendant allegedly deleted comments posted by Plaintiff on Facebook and his “likes” of other's Facebook posts and, therefore, is liable for abrogating his rights to free speech and other “inalienable right[s]” in violation of the First and Fifth Amendments to the United States Constitution (id. at 1-2). Plaintiff also claims that 47 U.S.C.§ 230(c)(2)(A), which shields ICSPs from liability for restricting material that the ICSP considers to be, among other things, obscene, excessively violent, harassing, or otherwise objectionable (whether or not such material is constitutionally protected), is unconstitutional (id. at 2). Plaintiff characterizes his suit as undertaken “in a court of law and not a court of equity” and proclaims himself a “sovereign precursor” and the “prosecutor/plaintiff” in this action (id.). Plaintiff also describes this action as a criminal matter (see Opp'n Mot. Dismiss at 1-2, 8). Plaintiff claims that Defendant is a publicly held corporation doing business in every state in the United States and, therefore, is subject to the jurisdiction of this court (Compl. at 2). In his prayer for relief, Plaintiff seeks (among other remedies) $1 billion in punitive damages, a declaration that 47 U.S.C. § 230(c)(2)(A) is unconstitutional, and an order that Defendant cease and desist its restriction on speech and restore all deleted comments (id. at 22-23).

         Defendant's motion to dismiss is brought pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 12(b)(2) and 12(b)(6). Plaintiff's motions to amend the Complaint are brought pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15.

         III. LAW AND ANALYSIS

         A. Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(2)

         Rule 12(b)(2) provides that a defendant may seek dismissal if the court lacks personal jurisdiction over that defendant. Plaintiff bears the burden of establishing the court's personal jurisdiction. Theunissen v. Matthews, 935 F.2d 1454, 1458 (6th Cir. 1991) (citing McNutt v. Gen. Motors Acceptance Corp., 298 U.S. 178, 189 (1936) (further citation omitted)). The court has the discretion to decide the motion on the materials submitted, permit discovery in order to aid in deciding the motion, and/or to conduct an evidentiary hearing. Id. (citing Serras v. First Tenn. Bank Nat'l Ass'n, 875 F.2d 1212, 1214 (6th Cir. 1989)). Neither party has requested discovery and the court concludes that a hearing is not necessary in order to rule on Defendant's motion. In so proceeding, the court must construe the pleadings in a light most favorable to Plaintiff. Opportunity Fund, LLC v. Epitome Sys., Inc., 912 F.Supp.2d 531, 537-38 (S.D. Ohio 2012) (citing CompuServe, Inc. v. Patterson, 89 F.3d 1257, 1262 (6th Cir. 1996)). Dismissal in this procedural posture is proper if all of the specific facts alleged by Plaintiff collectively fail to state a prima facie case for jurisdiction. J4 Promotions, Inc. v. Splash Dogs, LLC, No. 08 CV 977, 2009 WL 385611, at *5 (N.D. Ohio Feb. 13, 2009) (quoting CompuServe, Inc., 89 F.3d at 1262). Pleadings and documents filed by pro se litigants are “liberally construed” by the Court. See Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007).

         Whether a federal court's jurisdiction arises under 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331 or 1332, Plaintiff must satisfy the forum state's requirements for personal jurisdiction. See Thomas W. Petrarca Corp. v. Writers Guild of Am. W. Inc., No. 4:08CV1337, 2008 WL 5725659, at *2 (N.D. Ohio July 30, 2008) (citing Theunissen, 935 F.2d at 1459 (diversity); Bird v. Parsons, 289 F.3d 865, 871 (6th Cir. 2002) (federal question)). Because Ohio's long-arm statute is not coterminous with federal constitutional limits, Plaintiff must also show that the court's exercise of jurisdiction over the Defendant comports with due process. Schneider v. Hardesty, 669 F.3d 693, 699 (6th Cir. 2012) (citing Estate of Thomson ex rel. Estate of Rakestraw v. Toyota Motor Corp. Worldwide, 545 F.3d 357, 361 (6th Cir. 2008)). “Thus, the court will find that it has personal jurisdiction over a defendant only if the plaintiff ‘presents a prima facie case that: (1) jurisdiction is proper under a long-arm statute [Ohio Revised Code § 2307.382(A)(1)-(9)] or other jurisdictional rule of Ohio, the forum state; and (2) the Due Process Clause also allows for jurisdiction under the facts of the case.'” Sherwin-Williams Co. v. Advanced Collision Ctr. of Mobile, Inc., No. 1:16 CV 2355, 2017 WL 3034383, at *2 (N.D. Ohio July 18, 2017) (emphasis added) (quoting Conn v. Zakharov, 667 F.3d 705, 711 (6th Cir. 2012)). If either factor of this two-part analysis fails, the court cannot exercise personal jurisdiction over Defendant.

         In order to satisfy the due process component, Plaintiff must show that Defendant has sufficient minimum contacts with Ohio so that the court's exercise of jurisdiction comports with “traditional notions of fair play and substantial justice.” Int'l Shoe Co. v. Washington, 326 U.S. 310, 316 (1945) (citation omitted); Opportunity Fund, LLC, 912 F.Supp.2d at 537-38 (To make out a prima facie case for the court's exercise of personal jurisdiction over a defendant, a plaintiff must establish “with reasonable particularity sufficient contacts between [defendant] and the forum state to support jurisdiction.” (some internal quotation marks omitted)) (quoting Neogen Corp. v. Neo Gen Screening, Inc., 282 F.3d 883, 887 (6th Cir. 2002) (further citation omitted)).

         Sufficient “minimum contacts” that satisfy the due process requirement may be general or specific. General jurisdiction exists when a defendant's contacts with the forum state are “continuous and systematic” and render the defendant amenable to any lawsuit brought against it in the state. Bird, 289 F.3d at ...


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