MacDermid Inc. v. Deiter
A foreign defendant's remote use of a computer located in Connecticut can meet the jurisdictional requirements of the Connecticut long-arm statute. Allegedly, the defendant, Jackie Deiter, became aware that her employer intended to discharge her and forwarded confidential information from work to a private e-mail account. The plaintiff employer, MacDermid, keeps proprietary and confidential electronic data on computer servers that it maintains in Waterbury, Conn. MacDermid sued Deiter in the U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut, alleging that Deiter misused a computer system and misappropriated trade secrets, in violation of Connecticut General Statutes §§53a-251 and 35-51. (Deiter claimed that she openly forwarded confidential information to a private e-mail address so that she could return home and print the information required for presentations on a printer in her home.) Deiter moved to dismiss and argued that the District Court lacked jurisdiction, because she has never visited Connecticut. The District Court found it lacked jurisdiction pursuant to Connecticut's long-arm statute, because Deiter, who lives in Canada, did not make use of a computer in Connecticut. "It is clear," wrote the District Court, "that defendant's tortious conduct occurred, if at all, when defendant transferred plaintiff's proprietary information onto her home computer from her work computer, a transaction that occurred exclusively in Canada." MacDermid Inc. appealed. Connecticut's long-arm statute provides that a "court may exercise personal jurisdiction over any nonresident individual . . . who in person or through an agent: 1.) Transacts any business within the state; 2.) commits a tortious act within the state . . . ; [or] 3.) commits a tortious act outside the state causing injury to person or property within the state . . . if such person or agent . . . 5.) uses a computer . . . or a computer network . . . located within the state." The 2nd Circuit reversed and remanded. McDermid adequately alleged that Deiter used a computer in Connecticut. The Connecticut District Court possessed long-arm jurisdiction under §52-59b(a)(5). "The statute," wrote the 2nd Circuit, "requires only that the computer or network, not the user, be located in Connecticut."