By using America Online, do you open yourself to being sued in its home state, Virginia? Two Virginia courts — one federal, one state — recently addressed that jurisdictional question, with opposing outcomes.

Both courts agreed that Virginia’s long-arm statute extended to defendants who used AOL to post defamatory messages on the Internet. Because AOL’s servers are located in Virginia, the courts said, the defamatory postings could be considered to have been made within the state. Bochan v. La Fontaine (E.D. Va., May 26, 1999); Melvin v. Doe (Cir. Ct. of Loudoun County, Civil No. 21942, June 24, 1999).

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