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Elon Law professor Catherine Ross Dunham publishes law review article on the use of Internet contacts to establish personal jurisdiction in federal courts

Catherine Ross Dunham, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Professor of Law at Elon University School of Law, dissects the evolutionary path of personal jurisdiction from its Pennoyer v. Neff roots, to the contemporary e-jurisdiction issues raised in Zippo Manufacturing Co. v. Zippo Dot Com., in her article published in the Winter 2009 edition of the University of San Francisco Law Review.

Catherine Dunham

In “Zippo-ing the Wrong Way: How the Internet Has Misdirected the Federal Courts in Their Personal Jurisdiction Analysis,” Dunham evaluates the courts contemporary approach to personal jurisdiction and the Zippo sliding scale of purposeful availment through internet transactions.

Dunham writes, “[T]he Zippo court’s creation and application of the scale fails to offer any new approach to personal jurisdiction analysis . . . the scale itself has led to more confusion as courts try to comprehensively wedge Internet-based contacts questions into the inadequate and poorly structured scale, essentially overbuilding and overcrowding the addition to the house of personal jurisdiction.”

For the future of Internet-contact cases, Dunham suggests the use of Place Theory Framework, which allows courts to consider both contemporary issues arising from internet activity, while also retaining traditional territorial jurisprudence gained from historical precedent, “Place theory allows courts and litigants to analyze an Internet-based contacts case through the vertical Constitutional framework defined and refined through over one hundred years of precedent.”

Dunham has a bachelor's degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, a juris doctor from Campbell University and a master of laws from the University of Virginia School of Law. Dunham came to Elon from the University of Virginia School of Law in 2007 and was named Associate Dean for Academic Affairs in April of 2009. At Elon Law, Dunham teaches Civil Procedure, Appellate Advocacy, Pre-trial Litigation and other courses in the Trial Practice Program, for which she serves as the school’s director.



- Tiffany N. Dyson, L'11

Philip Craft,
7/17/2009 8:38 AM