9th Circuit Holds eBay Sale Does Not Create Personal Jurisdiction Over Out of State Seller

August 20, 2008. The U.S. Court of Appeals (9thCir) issued its opinion [20 pages in PDF] in Boschetto v. Hansing, holding that selling an item on the eBay auction site does not confer personal jurisdiction over an out of state seller in the state of the purchaser.

Jeffrey Hansing, a resident of state of Wisconsin, auctioned via eBay a 1964 Ford Galaxie car. The winning bidder was Paul Boschetto, a resident of California. Hansing shipped the car from Wisconsin to California. Boschetto alleges that it was not in the condition advertised by Hansing.

Boschetto filed a complaint in U.S. District Court (NDCal) against Hansing and others alleging four state law claims: violation of the California Consumer Protection Act, breach of contract, misrepresentation, and fraud. Subject matter jurisdiction is based upon diversity of citizenship.

The defendants moved to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction over them. The District Court granted the motion, and this appeal followed.

The Court of Appeals affirmed.

It held that "The sale of one automobile via the eBay website, without more, does not provide sufficient ``minimum contacts´´ to establish jurisdiction over a nonresident defendant in the forum state."

The Court of Appeals applied the following three prong test of the 9th Circuit:

  "(1) The non-resident defendant must purposefully direct his activities or consummate some transaction with the forum or resident thereof; or perform (some act by which he purposefully avails himself of the privilege of conducting activities in the forum, thereby invoking the benefits and protections of its laws;
  (2) the claim must be one which arises out of or relates to the defendant’s forum-related activities; and
  (3) the exercise of jurisdiction must comport with fair play and substantial justice, i.e. it must be reasonable." (Parentheses in original.)

It applied the purposeful availment standard to the first prong. It then concluded that the first prong is not met in this case because Boschetto did not establish that the defendants purposefully availed themselves of the privilege of doing business in California. There was merely a contract for the sale of a good, and this is insufficient to create a substantial connection with California.

The Court of Appeals further wrote that the Hansing's use of the eBay auction web site does not change the conclusion.

This case is Paul Boschetto v. Jeffrey Hansing, et al., U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit, App. Ct. No. No. 06-16595, an appeal from the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, D.C. No. CV-06-01390-VRW, Judge Vaughn Walker presiding. Judge Betty Fletcher wrote the opinion of the Court of Appeals, in which Judge Kevin Duffy joined. Duffy is a Judge of the U.S. District Court (SDNY) who sat by designation. Judge Pam Rymer wrote a concurring opinion.