Justia Internet Law Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit
Vitamins Online, Inc. v. HeartWise, Inc.
Plaintiff Vitamins Online, Inc. believed that its competitor, Defendant Heartwise, Inc. (d/b/a NatureWise), was misrepresenting the ingredients of its competitive nutritional supplements and manipulating those products’ Amazon reviews. Vitamins Online sued for violations of the Lanham Act and Utah’s common law Unfair Competition Law. The case proceeded to a bench trial, at the conclusion of which the district court ruled for Vitamins Online and ordered disgorgement of NatureWise’s profits for 2012 and 2013. The court also awarded Vitamins Online attorney fees and costs for NatureWise’s willful misrepresentation and for various discovery abuses. Both parties appealed. NatureWise contended the district court erred in finding that it made false or misleading representations about its own nutritional supplements’ ingredients and its Amazon reviews. NatureWise further asserted the district court erred in concluding that Vitamins Online was entitled to a presumption of injury for these misrepresentations. Vitamins Online contended the district court erred in bifurcating Vitamins Online’s injury into two separate time periods and requiring Vitamins Online to prove that a presumption of injury was applicable separately for each period. Vitamins Online also argued the district court erred in denying disgorgement for the second time period, and for failing to consider an award of punitive damages and an injunction as to NatureWise’s further manipulation of reviews. The Tenth Circuit concluded the district court did not clearly err in applying a presumption of injury, and affirmed the award of profits, attorney fees, and costs, and found no reversable error in the amount awarded. The Court also held the district court failed to consider properly Vitamins Online’s request for punitive damages and an injunction; the Court remanded for the district court to reconsider. View "Vitamins Online, Inc. v. HeartWise, Inc." on Justia Law
C1.G v. Siegfried, et al.
Plaintiff-Appellant Cl.G., on behalf of his minor son, C.G., appealed a district court’s dismissal of his case against Defendants-Appellees Cherry Creek School District (District or CCSD) and various employees for alleged constitutional violations stemming from C.G.’s suspension and expulsion from Cherry Creek High School (CCHS). In 2019, C.G. was off campus at a thrift store with three friends. He took a picture of his friends wearing wigs and hats, including “one hat that resembled a foreign military hat from the World War II period.” C.G. posted that picture on Snapchat and captioned it, “Me and the boys bout [sic] to exterminate the Jews.” C.G.’s post (the photo and caption) was part of a private “story,” visible only to Snapchat users connected with C.G. on that platform. Posts on a user’s Snapchat story are automatically deleted after 24 hours, but C.G. removed this post after a few hours. He then posted on his Snapchat story, “I’m sorry for that picture it was ment [sic] to be a joke.” One of C.G.’s Snapchat “friend[s]” took a photograph of the post before C.G. deleted it and showed it to her father. The father called the police, who visited C.G.’s house and found no threat. Referencing prior anti-Semitic activity and indicating that the post caused concern for many in the Jewish community, a CCHS parent emailed the school and community leaders about the post, leading to C.G.'s expulsion. Plaintiff filed suit claiming violations of C.G.'s constitutional rights. Defendants moved to dismiss, which was ultimately granted. On appeal, Plaintiff argued that the First Amendment limited school authority to regulate off-campus student speech, particularly speech unconnected with a school activity and not directed at the school or its specific members. Defendants maintained that C.G. was lawfully disciplined for what amounts to off-campus hate speech. According to Defendants, although originating off campus, C.G.’s speech still spread to the school community, disrupted the school’s learning environment, and interfered with the rights of other students to be free from harassment and receive an education. The Tenth Circuit determined Plaintiff properly pled that Defendants violated C.G.’s First Amendment rights by disciplining him for his post; the district court’s dismissal of Plaintiff’s first claim was reversed in part. The Court affirmed dismissal of Plaintiff’s further facial challenges to CCSD’s policies. Questions of qualified and absolute immunity and Plaintiff’s conspiracy claim were remanded for further consideration. View "C1.G v. Siegfried, et al." on Justia Law
Laufer v. Looper, et al.
Deborah Laufer was qualified as disabled under the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) and was a self-described ADA “tester.” In that capacity, she visited the Elk Run Inn’s online reservation system (“ORS”) to determine whether it complied with the ADA, though she had no intention to stay there. Laufer sued Randall and Cynthia Looper, the owners of the Elk Run Inn, alleging that the ORS lacked information about accessibility in violation of an ADA regulation. The district court dismissed Laufer’s complaint without prejudice for lack of Article III standing because she failed to allege that she suffered a concrete and particularized injury. Finding no reversible error in the district court's judgment, the Tenth Circuit affirmed dismissal. View "Laufer v. Looper, et al." on Justia Law
XMission, L.C. v. Fluent, LLC
Plaintiff XMission, L.C. appealed a district court's dismissal of its claims against Fluent, LLC for lack of personal jurisdiction over Fluent in Utah. Fluent was a Delaware limited liability company with its principal place of business in New York. It described its service as digital marketing; its business model was apparently based on supplying consumer data to businesses. XMission was a Utah limited liability company with its principal place of business in Salt Lake City. As an internet service provider (ISP), it used servers and other hardware that it owned and operated in Utah to provide internet access for its commercial and residential customers. It also provided email hosting and other internet-related services. Any email sent to a domain hosted by XMission would arrive on XMission’s email servers in Utah. XMission’s complaint against Fluent was based on more than 10,000 emails sent from 2015 to early 2018 to more than 1,100 XMission customers in Utah through its servers, allegedly in violation of the Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing Act of 2003 (CAN-SPAM Act). The emails at issue instructed recipients to follow links that offered to rewards. By clicking the link, the recipient is taken to a Fluent-controlled data-gathering domain that prompts the recipient to enter personal information such as name, age and date of birth, gender, email address, social media activity, zip code, and street address. Fluent apparently collects and aggregates the consumer information and sells this personal data to others to assist them in developing targeted marketing campaigns. The record does not disclose whether the email recipients actually obtain any rewards from the named companies or whether Fluent is compensated in any way by those companies for these emails. After review, the Tenth Circuit remained unpersuaded the offending emails created personal jurisdiction over Fluent in Utah, and thus affirmed the district court's dismissal. View "XMission, L.C. v. Fluent, LLC" on Justia Law