All Sales Final? EFF Objects to eDrop-Off's Venue Shopping

By Robyn Hagan Cain on May 31, 2012 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Venue shopping, much like eBay shopping, requires a buyer beware mindset. No one should appreciate that more than an eBay vendor.

So it's slightly ironic that Corri McFadden, proprietress of eDrop-Off, (a high-end eBay consignment store that doesn't accept returns or exchanges), is looking to take back her lawsuit from a California federal court, so she can bring it in an Illinois federal court instead.

McFadden is suing Massachusetts resident Nancy Burke and for comments that Burke allegedly made under the handle "BeenBurned" on Burke reportedly accused McFadden of shill-bidding, (i.e. submitting bogus bids to drive up the price of items), and advised consumers not to do business with eDrop-Off, reports the Chicago Tribune. McFadden is asking for the usual damages, costs, and fees, and she wants PurseBlog to remove the comment.

Why the sudden change of heart venue?

It may have something to do with California's anti-SLAPP law.

The legislature passed the anti-SLAPP (Strategic Litigation Against Public Participation) statute to protect speakers from frivolous lawsuits filed to chill speech. In its findings, the legislature noted, "It is in the public interest to encourage continued participation in matters of public significance, and ... this participation should not be chilled through abuse of the judicial process." In other words, it's hard to win in a California federal court when you file a lawsuit that seeks to stifle speech.

The Chicago-based McFadden might have more luck with her claims in her hometown, which could be why she's asking the California federal court to dismiss her lawsuit without prejudice.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) believes that McFadden is simply looking for a "friendlier" forum, and has filed an amicus brief asking the court to deny her request. EFF Senior Staff Attorney Marcia Hofmann said that McFadden and eDrop-Off "set the stage by choosing to file their suit in California. The court should finish the case there as well, protecting's speech rights by applying California law."

Regardless of whether McFadden wins or loses here, the case serves as a good reminder for attorneys: If you have the option of filing a lawsuit in multiple venues, do your venue shopping before you file.

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