This appeal calls for the court to revisit the application of traditional constitutional principles of personal jurisdiction and due process in the context of a retail sale contract made over the Internet.
After viewing an Internet posting that advertised a vintage car for sale, a New Jersey customer sent an email to the California owner offering to buy it. The seller responded with a counteroffer, and the parties swiftly agreed on a price. The buyer arranged to have the purchased car shipped from California to New Jersey. When the vehicle arrived here, the buyer discovered it was in poor condition. He sued the seller in the Law Division. The seller moved to dismiss the complaint for lack of in personam jurisdiction. The judge granted the motion, and the buyer now appeals.
The court affirms the dismissal of the complaint for lack of personal jurisdiction over the California seller. The seller in this one-time-sale scenario did not "purposely avail" himself of this State's retail market to a degree that rises to the level of "minimum contacts" needed to support personal jurisdiction under the Due Process Clause.
The parties' follow-up communications that occurred after they agreed on the car's price were insufficient to create a jurisdictional nexus to New Jersey. In addition, their simple contractual documents lacked a forum selection clause, which could have specified New Jersey as an agreed-upon forum.
The court does not foreclose a finding of specific jurisdiction in future Internet retail sale contexts in which more extensive transactional activities connected to this State occur.