WILKERSON v. RSL FUNDING, L.L.C.
388 S.W.3d 668 (2011)
Jerry WILKERSON, Appellant
RSL FUNDING, L.L.C., Appellee.
Court of Appeals of Texas, Houston (1st Dist.).
August 11, 2011.
Rehearing En Banc Overruled December 12, 2011.
William Book, Tekell, Book, Allen & Morris LLP, Houston, TX, for Appellant.
Panel consists of Justices KEYES, SHARP, and MASSENGALE.
MICHAEL MASSENGALE, Justice.
In this interlocutory appeal, Jerry Wilkerson appeals the trial court's order denying his special appearance. Appellee RSL Funding, L.L.C. sued Wilkerson for defamation, libel, and business disparagement, all based upon statements made by Wilkerson on third-party internet sites. In his sole issue, Wilkerson contends the trial court erred in denying his special appearance and objection to jurisdiction. We find that the trial court lacked jurisdiction, and we therefore reverse and render a judgment of dismissal without prejudice.Background
California resident Jerry Wilkerson lives with his daughter, Trisha, who won the California state lottery. RSL Funding, L.L.C. is a financial services business that solicited Trisha by mail, offering to pay her a lump sum in exchange for a portion of her future lottery payments. Although RSL is headquartered in Houston, evidence submitted to the trial court suggests that the company advertised it had locations in New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, West Palm Beach, and Atlanta.
Trisha assigned a portion of her future lottery payments to RSL in exchange for a lump-sum payment. Wilkerson had no direct financial interest in his daughter's transaction. However, Trisha had a bad experience dealing with RSL, and Wilkerson decided to post a review on the internet to express his dissatisfaction. He searched the internet for RSL, and he testified that he believed he posted his comments on RSL's website. Rather than finding RSL's own website, however, Wilkerson had found third-party web pages containing basic business information about RSL. These websites permitted users to post reviews about their experiences with featured businesses, and Wilkerson posted negative reviews about RSL on two such web pages.
One of these websites was maintained by the internet search engine Yahoo! (http://www.yahoo.com). The Yahoo! evidence presented by RSL included two exhibits: Exhibit C, which is an undated screenshot of part of a Yahoo! internet page, and Exhibit D, which is one page of a two-page printout from Yahoo! dated
March 18, 2010.1 It is apparent from the face of each document that neither of them is a complete copy of the represented internet page.