In a written decision issued on May 6, 2022, a federal judge in New Jersey dismissed a lawsuit brought by a notorious hatchet-wielding hitchhiker who accused our client, a licensed professional mental health counselor, of publishing a YouTube video defaming his character and wrongfully profiting from his name. Click here to read the Opinion.
Our client publishes his own YouTube channel with over 1 million subscribers where he discusses the backgrounds and personalities of various criminals and expresses his opinions about what may have caused them to engage in criminal behavior.
The plaintiff hitchhiker gained notoriety back in 2013 when he rescued a California highway worker from a sexual assault by beating the perpetrator with a hatchet that he was carrying in his backpack. A local news reporter happened upon the hitchhiker at the scene, and the video of his eyewitness interview went viral establishing him as an overnight Internet sensation culminating with an appearance on the Jimmy Kimmel late night talk show.
Just a few months later, however, the hitchhiker was accused of brutally murdering a New Jersey attorney. Following a jury trial, the hitchhike was convicted of murder and sentenced to more than 50-years in jail.
Our client published a 12.36 minute clip about the plaintiff’s murder case, which had garnered over 78,000 views at the time the lawsuit was filed.
As a basis to dismiss the plaintiff’s federal court complaint, we successfully argued that the publication of the disputed YouTube video did not subject our client, a Delaware resident, to personal jurisdiction in New Jersey. Our client does not reside in New Jersey, treat any patients in New Jersey, advertise in New Jersey, or own any property in New Jersey. In fact, the only connection to New Jersey is the plaintiff is presently incarcerated in Trenton, New Jersey.
The Court held that the YouTube video did not subject our client to being sued in New Jersey merely because any member of the public could view the video over the Internet from a computer located in New Jersey. Since the video was not specifically directed to New Jersey, the Court held that due process prohibits the plaintiff from suing our client in New Jersey and accordingly dismissed the case.
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