Prior Restraints

Banned in (Much of) Britain, and Beyond?

Social media are abuzz about English Premier League footballer ("soccer player" to us Yanks) Ryan Giggs, who has obtained an order from a British court requiring Twitter to reveal the identity of various tweeters who identified him as having had an affair with model and Big Brother contestant Imogen Thomas.

Jurisdiction: 

Content Type: 

Subject Area: 

Intentional Grounding: Can Public Colleges Limit Athletes' Tweets?

An exercise we did Friday at Univeristy of Nevada, Reno's High School Journalism Day raised an interesting legal question: can a public university restrict its students' use of social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter?

Jurisdiction: 

Subject Area: 

Hate Mongers and Tunnel Rats are Entitled to Free Speech, Too

It's often said that bad cases make bad law.  In the case of a decision issued by a New Jersey state court back in December, a bad case has also made for bad law commentary.

Jurisdiction: 

Subject Area: 

New Hampshire Supreme Court Upholds Free Speech Rights for Online News Sites

The New Hampshire Supreme Court today issued an important decision upholding the First Amendment rights of online publishers.

Jurisdiction: 

Subject Area: 

Fake Giraffe Update: Louisiana Court Sides With Satirical Website

Nicholas Brilleaux, publisher of Hammond Action News, got a big victory yesterday when a Louisiana judge dissolved an order prohibiting him from posting a satirical news story about a fictional giraffe attack on his blog.

Subject Area: 

Global Wildlife Center v. Hammond Action News

Date: 

03/01/2010

Threat Type: 

Lawsuit

Party Receiving Legal Threat: 

Nicholas Brilleaux d/b/a Hammond Action News

Type of Party: 

Organization

Type of Party: 

Individual

Court Type: 

State

Court Name: 

21st Judicial District Court, Parish of Tangipahoa, State of Louisiana

Legal Counsel: 

J. Parker Layrisson

Publication Medium: 

Blog

Relevant Documents: 

Status: 

Pending

Disposition: 

Injunction Denied
Injunction Issued

Description: 

Global Wildlife Center, a wildlife preserve in Folsom, Louisiana, sued Nicholas Brilleaux, publisher of the Hammond Action News blog, after he published a satirical article about a fake giraffe attack at the preserve. Hammond Action News publishes Onion-style fake news stories about regional happenings in the Hammond area northwest of New Orleans.

On March 2, 2010, Judge Brenda Bedsole Ricks of the 21st Judicial District Court in Amite, Louisiana granted Global Wildlife Center a temporary restraining order requiring Brilleaux to remove the story from his blog. 

Brilleaux's lawyer told the First Amendment Center that the restraining order was issued without a hearing. The court will hold a hearing on Global Wildlife Center's request for a preliminary injunction on March 15, 2010.  The ACLU filed an amicus curiae brief in support of Brilleaux, arguing that the First Amendment protects his satirical work.

Update:

03/15/2010 - District Judge Beth Wolfe dissolved the temporary restraining order and denied the request for a preliminary injunction. The court also ordered Global Wildlife to pay Brilleaux $500 in attorneys' fees and court costs.

03/01/2013 - about three years after the dissolution of this case, Ken Matherne, the owner of the Global Wildlife Center, sent an email to Ken White of the blog Popehat, threatening legal action for his blog post from March 2010 concerning this case. 

3/06/2013 - the website Techdirt, after reporting on the threat received by Ken White from Ken Martherene, received a similar threat via email.

Jurisdiction: 

Content Type: 

Subject Area: 

Darnell v. Dobrott

Date: 

06/10/2008

Threat Type: 

Lawsuit

Party Receiving Legal Threat: 

Heather Dobrott

Type of Party: 

Individual

Type of Party: 

Individual

Court Type: 

Federal

Court Name: 

193rd Judicial District Court, Dallas County, Texas

Case Number: 

No. 08-06317

Verdict or Settlement Amount: 

$0.00

Legal Counsel: 

Matthew J. Kita; James H. Moody III; Thomas Foster

Publication Medium: 

Forum

Relevant Documents: 

Status: 

Concluded

Disposition: 

Dismissed (total)
Injunction Denied

Description: 

In June 2008, Tim Darnell of Advantage Conferences sued Heather Dobrott in Texas state court for comments she posted about his business under the pseudonym "soapboxmom" on forum site scam.com and other websites.  Darnell's petition and request for temporary restraining order sought injunctive relief and damages against Dobrott on theories of defamation, trade libel, tortious interference, negligence, and invasion of privacy.  

The court initially granted Darnell a temporary restraining order, but in a June 23, 2008 hearing it dissolved the restraining order and denied Darnell's request for a temporary injunction, stating that "prior restraints on speech are presumptively unconstitutional and I have not heard anything that would indicate . . . why the relief requested would take it out of that presumption."

Later, the court granted Dobrott's motion for summary judgment, which appears to have been unopposed.

Jurisdiction: 

Content Type: 

Subject Area: 

United States v Indymedia.us

Date: 

01/23/2009

Threat Type: 

Subpoena

Party Receiving Legal Threat: 

Kristina Clair

Type of Party: 

Government

Type of Party: 

Individual

Court Type: 

Federal

Court Name: 

United States District Court for the District of Indiana

Case Number: 

09-01-DLP-15-10

Verdict or Settlement Amount: 

$0.00

Legal Counsel: 

Kevin Bankston - Electronic Frontier Foundation

Publication Medium: 

Website

Relevant Documents: 

Status: 

Concluded

Disposition: 

Withdrawn

Description: 

In January 2009, Kristina Clair received a grand jury subpoena issued upon application of the United States Attorney for the District of Indiana, Timothy M. Morrison. Ms. Clair is a Linux administrator living in Philadelphia who provides free server space for Indymedia.us, an independent news aggregation site with a left-of-center activist orientation. 

The subpoena demanded "all IP traffic to and from www.indymedia.us" on June 25, 2008.  It instructed Ms. Clair to "include IP addresses, times, and any other identifying information," including email addresses, telephone numbers, records of session times and durations, physical addresses, registered accounts, and financial information.  The subpoena also prohibited Ms. Clair from disclosing "the existence of this request unless authorized by the Assistant U.S. Attorney." 

Ms. Clair contacted the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which agreed to represent her.  Kevin Bankston of EFF sent a letter to Doris L. Pryor, the Assistant United States Attorney on the case, explaining that Ms. Clair did not possess the information requested, objecting that the subpoena was not personally served on Ms. Clair, and arguing that disclosure of the requested information would require a court order under federal electronic privacy law.  Further, the letter pointed out that grand jury secrecy requirements do not reach witnesses or prospective witnesses, and therefore the government had no basis to restrain Ms. Clair's speech about the existence of the subpoena.

U.S. Attorney Morrison replied 12 days letter with a one sentence letter informing Bankston that the subpoena had been withdrawn.

Jurisdiction: 

Content Type: 

Subject Area: 

Ness v. Rondberg

Date: 

03/19/2008

Threat Type: 

Lawsuit

Party Receiving Legal Threat: 

Terry Rondberg; Michelle DePalma

Type of Party: 

Individual
Organization

Type of Party: 

Individual

Court Type: 

State

Court Name: 

Superior Court of the State of California, San Diego County; California Court of Appeal, Fourth Appellate District - Division One

Case Number: 

No.37-2008-00052535-CU-DF-NC (trial level); D053855 (appellate level)

Legal Counsel: 

Carlos Negrete

Publication Medium: 

Website

Relevant Documents: 

Status: 

Pending

Disposition: 

Injunction Issued
Material Removed

Description: 

Peri Ness, the founder of Synergy Yoga, filed a lawsuit in California state court against Terry Rondberg, a former student of Synergy Yoga, and Michelle DePalma, a former teacher there, after they created TruthAboutSynergyYoga.com.  According to an appellate decision in the case, the website accused Synergy Yoga of being a cult and Ness of being a cult leader.

The trial court granted Ness a temporary restraining order, which prevented Rondberg and DePalma from publishing and maintaining TruthAboutSynergyYoga.com. The website no longer hosts content, but promises to return.

Rondberg and DePalma filed a special motion to strike the complaint under California's anti-SLAPP statute (Code Civ. Proc., § 425.16).  The court denied the motion on procedural grounds.  Rondberg and DePalma appealed, and a California appellate court affirmed the trial court's ruling.

Jurisdiction: 

CMLP Notes: 

EK - editing [11/05/09]

Priority: 

1-High

Content Type: 

Subject Area: 

Huntingdon Life Sciences, Inc. v. Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty, USA Inc.

Date: 

06/03/2003

Threat Type: 

Lawsuit

Party Receiving Legal Threat: 

Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty, USA, Inc.; Animal Liberation Front; David Agranoff; Kevin Kjonaas; Does 1 through 100

Type of Party: 

Individual
Large Organization

Type of Party: 

Individual
Organization

Court Type: 

State

Court Name: 

Superior Court of the State of California, San Diego County; California Court of Appeal, Fourth District

Case Number: 

GIC812248 (trial court); No. D042950 (appeal)

Legal Counsel: 

Christine L. Garcia - Animal Rights Law Office

Publication Medium: 

Website

Relevant Documents: 

Status: 

Concluded

Disposition: 

Dismissed (partial)
Injunction Issued

Description: 

Huntingdon Life Sciences (HLS) and one of its employees filed a lawsuit in California state court against Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty, USA (SHAC), the Animal Liberation Front (ALF), and animal rights activists associated with both groups.  The plaintiffs sought an injunction against protest activities at the HLS employee's home, and against posting information about demonstrations and identifying information about HLS employees on SHAC's website.

The Superior Court issued a preliminary injunction prohibiting SHAC from placing or maintaining on any website any information regarding any HLS employee or business associate, among other things.

SHAC moved to strike the complaint pursuant to California's anti-SLAPP statute, Cal. Code Civ. Proc. § 425.16. The trial court denied the motion because the issuance of a preliminary injunction indicated a likelihood of success on the claims.

On appeal, the California Court of Appeal reversed the Superior Court ruling on the anti-SLAPP motion and ordered it to dismiss a number of the claims, leaving others intact.

In addition, the appellate court ordered that the preliminary injunction be more narrowly tailored. According to the appellate court, the injunction improperly required removal of all references to HLS employees, including those in newspaper articles republished on the SHAC website. The court further explained that, while SHAC could be enjoined from publishing the names, addresses, other identifying information of HLS employees, or reports of illegal activity, SHAC must be allowed to publish legitimate news items about HLS and its employees.

It is not clear what happened after the case returned to the trial court.

Jurisdiction: 

CMLP Notes: 

Under review HCF (10/19/2009)

Priority: 

1-High

Content Type: 

Subject Area: 

Kerr v. Smith

Date: 

09/20/2006

Threat Type: 

Lawsuit

Party Receiving Legal Threat: 

Gregg B. Smith

Type of Party: 

Individual
Organization

Type of Party: 

Individual

Court Type: 

State

Court Name: 

Superior Court of Massachusetts

Case Number: 

No. 06-1807C

Verdict or Settlement Amount: 

$0.00

Legal Counsel: 

Pro Se

Publication Medium: 

Print
Website

Relevant Documents: 

Status: 

Concluded

Disposition: 

Injunction Issued
Verdict (plaintiff)

Description: 

A group of developers sued Gregg B. Smith in Massachusetts state court over his operation of a website and distribution of a newsletter under the name "Save Cape Ann." Smith disputed the ownership of a parcel of land and the developers' right to develop the land. The developers brought suit in September 2006 seeking injunctive relief for defamation, intentional interference with contractual relations, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and trespass. In particular, the plaintiffs sought to prevent Smith from the "distribution of any publications, website, videos, or other means of communication, regarding these unfounded statements about Plaintiffs." (Compl. ¶ 78).

According to the complaint, the website contained "false, disparaging, and derogatory allegations about not only individual members of the Hoffman family, but also about the Kerr family. . . and about Reeb Millwork Corporation." (Compl. ¶ 32).  The allegedly defamatory statements included:

  • "Plaintiffs are continueing [sic] the crimes after two of the resident homes were illegally acquired. . ." (Compl. ¶ 33)
  • "Tide Rock Developer and former Math professor . . . is a child preditor [sic]. For over 15 years he prayed [sic] on his students giving them illegal drugs." (Compl. ¶ 34).

The plaintiffs also accused Smith of making false and defamatory statements in letters sent to the plaintiffs and their employees.

The Massachusetts state court issued a prelminary injunction in October 2006, prohibiting Smith from (1) making certain defamatory remarks concerning the plaintiffs; (2) contacting the plaintiffs; (3) contacting employees, customers, or affiliates of certain plaintiffs; and (4) coming within 25 feet of "the Stone House." The court specifically ordered Smith not to publish statements claiming that the plaintiffs hired "crooked lawyers" to further their development activities or that they "illegally acquired property, have illegally destroyed homes or property of others, have interfered with the property of others in retaliation for opposition to real estate development activities, and/or otherwise engaged in 'real estate crimes.'"

In March 2007, the court issued a further order expanding the scope of the injunction to prohibit Smith from (1) "publishing any statement accusing any of the Plaintiffs of illegal activity unless and until such illegal activity is actually found and adjudicated"; and (2) "soliciting others to violate the injunction."  In June 2008, the court deleted provisions of the injunction relating to contacting employees and making generalized allegations of criminal activity.

In August 2008, after a trial, a jury returned a verdict for several of the plaintiffs on the defamation count and for one plaintiff on the intentional infliction of emotional distress count, but the jury awarded no damages for these two counts.  (The jury awarded Katherine Hoffman Sen and Scott Kerr $900 for trespass on land, but this was unrelated to Smith's publishing activities.) 

After the jury verdict, the plaintiffs moved the court for entry of judgment, including a permanent injunction prohibiting Smith from making specified defamatory statements about them. In January 2009, the court ruled that it would issue an order enjoining Smith from "publishing the statements which, based upon the evidence, . . . have been the statement or statements the jury found to be defamatory of certain of the plaintiffs."

Jurisdiction: 

Priority: 

1-High

Content Type: 

CMLP Notes: 

In review [HF 10/9/2009]

on wl at 2007 WL 6799319

Subject Area: 

Nevyas v. Morgan

Date: 

11/07/2003

Threat Type: 

Lawsuit

Party Receiving Legal Threat: 

Dominic J. Morgan; Steven A. Friedman

Type of Party: 

Individual
Organization

Type of Party: 

Individual

Court Type: 

State

Court Name: 

Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas City Hall; Superior Court of Pennsylvania

Case Number: 

031100946 (trial); J.A32030-06 (appeal)

Legal Counsel: 

Steven A. Friedman, Carl H. Hanzelik, and Paul Alan Levy (for Morgan); Jeffrey B. Albert (for Friedman)

Publication Medium: 

Website

Relevant Documents: 

Status: 

Pending

Disposition: 

Injunction Denied
Injunction Issued
Material Removed
Material Reinstated

Description: 

The plaintiffs, Nevyas, Nevyas-Wallace, and Nevyas Eye Associates, brought suit in November 2003 for damages and injunctive relief for defamation and breach of contract for statements about their LASIK eye surgery practice posted online by a former patient, Dominic Morgan. A motion for temporary restraining order was denied in 2003 by the Common Pleas Court in Philadelphia County, and the plaintiffs subsequently also brought suit in federal court when the defendant made further additions to his website. The federal claims were dismissed in 2004. The state court claims proceeded to trial in July 2005, and the trial court granted an injunction in favor of the plaintiffs.  On appeal, the Superior Court of Pennsylvania vacated the injunction in March 2007 and remanded the case to the trial court for futher proceedings. 

Dr. Nevyas-Wallace performed elective LASIK eye surgery on the defendant Dominic Morgan in 1998. Displeased with the results, Morgan commenced a medical malpractice action against Nevyas-Wallace, Nevyas, and the clinic, Nevyas Eye Associates. Ultimately, the dispute was resolved through arbitration. According to the complaint, Morgan created a website that contained numerous defamatory statements. (Compl. ¶ 17).  The plaintiffs contend that they entered into an agreement with Morgan in August 2003 in which Morgan agreed to remove all defamatory material and references to the plaintiffs from the website, and in return the plaintiffs would forego filing suit against him. (Compl. ¶ 20) In November 2003, the plaintiffs discovered a reconstructed website containing what they contend were defamatory statements. (Compl. ¶¶ 21-22).

The plaintiffs filed a petition for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction on November 10, 2003, but the motions were denied on November 18, 2003. The case proceeded to a non-jury trial limited to specific performance of the contract on July 26, 2005. The trial court granted an injunction in favor of the plaintiffs on October 19, 2005, forbidding Morgan from mentioning the Nevyases at all on his website.

On appeal, the court found that Morgan did not waive his right to make critical statements in the future and he had specifically reserved the right to update his website. Thus, the Superior Court of Pennsylvania vacated the order granting the injunction and remanded the case to trial court for determination of whether the statements were defamatory and whether the statements posted in November were the same as the statements posted in July 2003. Nevyas v. Morgan, 2007 PA Super. 66.

Related case in federal court: CMLP: Nevyas v. Morgan II (federal lawsuit).

Jurisdiction: 

CMLP Notes: 

AVM- 7/19/09 - fixing the links and dome formatting. Note, the neyvas link is a segmented pdf, I think we should decompress and repackage.

AVM- 7/22/09 - took a while but able to desegment and repackage complaint pdf

Federal suit is here 309 F.Supp.2d 673

Content Type: 

Subject Area: 

City of Kirkland v. Sheehan

Date: 

03/27/2001

Threat Type: 

Lawsuit

Party Receiving Legal Threat: 

William Sheehan; Roberta Sheehan; Aaron Rosenstein

Type of Party: 

Government

Type of Party: 

Individual

Court Type: 

State

Court Name: 

Superior Court of the State of Washington, County of King

Case Number: 

01-2-09513-7 SEA

Legal Counsel: 

Elena Luisa Garella

Publication Medium: 

Website

Status: 

Concluded

Disposition: 

Injunction Denied
Injunction Issued
Material Removed

Description: 

City officials in Kirkland, Washington sued William Sheehan and other defendants for publishing personal information about Kirkland police officers on his website, www.justicefiles.org. The website, which was critical of law enforcement, contained substantive political argument but also the names, addresses, dates of birth, telephone numbers and social security numbers of law enforcement personnel and their spouses. The City alleged that the website invaded the privacy of its officers and sought an injunction prohibiting publication of this personal information.

The Washington state court granted in part and denied in part the City's motion for an injunction. It distinguished information with a substantive communicative purpose from personal information that protects an individual's identity and assets.  The court refused to enjoin the dissemination of the names, addresses, dates of birth and telephone numbers of the law enforcement personnel, reasoning that absent a credible threat of harm, the First Amendment protects the dissemination of information that promotes political discussion. The court enjoined the dissemination of social security numbers, however, because the government has a compelling interest in protecting this unique identifying information.   

Later, Sheehan and his wife filed a third-party complaint against Yahoo!, Infospace, Inc., RWN Corporation, d/b/a Data-trac.com, and US Search.com, Inc., claiming a right to contribution or indemnity because these companies originally published or sold the "personal" information upon which the City's lawsuit was based.  The CMLP has not been able to determine what happened after this point in the proceeding.  Sheehan's website is no longer online. 

Jurisdiction: 

CMLP Notes: 

In June 2001, Defendant Sheehan and Plaintiffs brought claims against third parties, Yahoo, Infospace, Inc., RWN Corporation and US Search.com, Inc. http://www.politechbot.com/kirkland/defense.yahoo.motion.0601.html

-edited by MW

 

Priority: 

1-High

Content Type: 

Subject Area: 

Martin v. Langlois

Date: 

06/01/2009

Threat Type: 

Lawsuit

Party Receiving Legal Threat: 

Michelle Langlois

Type of Party: 

Individual

Type of Party: 

Individual

Court Type: 

State

Court Name: 

Rhode Island Family Court, Kent County

Legal Counsel: 

H. Jefferson Melish - Rhode Island ACLU

Publication Medium: 

Social Network

Status: 

Concluded

Disposition: 

Injunction Issued
Withdrawn

Description: 

Michelle Langlois, whose brother is embroiled in a pending child custody case with his ex-wife, posted information and commentary about her brother's case to her Facebook account.  Tracey Martin, the ex-wife, filed a "domestic abuse" petition in Kent County Family Court against Langlois, claiming that her posts constituted "harassment" and a "mental assault" on Martin and her children. 

Family Court Judge Michael Forte, who presided over Martin's petition, issued an order restraining Langlois from "posting details about the children and the pending Family Court proceedings on the Internet."  After this order was issued, the Rhode Island ACLU intervened in the case on Langlois' behalf.   The ACLU filed a motion to dismiss, arguing that the court's order was an unconstitutional violation of Langlois' First Amendment rights, and that the Family Court had no jurisdiction to issue the order. 

On July 28, 2009, a day before the court was scheduled to hold a hearing on the motion, Martin voluntarily dismissed her complaint.  This had the effect of rescinding the court's initial restraining order.

Jurisdiction: 

Priority: 

1-High

CMLP Notes: 

07/29/2009 - LB editing 

Content Type: 

Subject Area: 

Rhode Island Judge Pokes Free Speech on Facebook

Restraints on speech prior to publication are almost never OK. It wasn't OK in the 1930s when Minnesota tried to enjoin the publication of an anti-Semitic newspaper. It wasn't even OK in the 1970s when the U.S. government tried to prevent The New York Times and The Washington Post from publishing the top-secret Pentagon Papers.

Jurisdiction: 

Subject Area: 

Berkman's Cyberlaw Clinic Submits Amicus Brief in Case Involving Prior Restraint and Reporter's Privilege

Today, Harvard Law School's Cyberlaw Clinic submitted an amicus curiae brief urging the New Hampshire Supreme Court to defend the First Amendment rights of a website that covers news about the mortgage industry.

Jurisdiction: 

Subject Area: 

Bring Me his Head and Hands: Unconstitutional Internet Proscription

Dear friends, let’s begin with a little story about the death of liberty at Rome. When Mark Antony had the chance, he proscribed (read: murdered) the orator Cicero.

Jurisdiction: 

Content Type: 

Subject Area: 

Eppley v. Iacovelli

Date: 

03/30/2009

Threat Type: 

Lawsuit

Party Receiving Legal Threat: 

Lucille Iacovelli

Type of Party: 

Individual

Type of Party: 

Individual

Court Type: 

Federal

Court Name: 

United States District Court for the Southern District of Indiana

Case Number: 

1:09-cv-00386

Legal Counsel: 

Lucille Iacovelli - Pro Se

Publication Medium: 

Blog
Email
Forum
Website

Relevant Documents: 

Status: 

Pending

Disposition: 

Injunction Issued

Description: 

On March 30, 2009, Dr. Barry Eppley, a plastic surgeon in the Indianapolis area, filed a lawsuit against former patient, Lucille Iacovelli.  The complaint included claims for defamation, trade disparagement, harassment, false designations and descriptions of fact, and false light publicity based on webpages, videos, and postings Iacovelli allegedly made regarding her past surgery experience with Eppley.  Eppley also asked for a temporary restraining order prohibiting Iacovelli from carrying out or writing about an alleged plan to commit suicide and publicize it in order to destroy his career. 

The court granted a temporary restraining order preventing Iacovelli from publishing anything related to a suicide attempt, her prior treatment by Eppley, or commenting on Eppley's role in preventing the suicide attempt the same day. Following a hearing on April 8, 2009, U.S. District Court Judge Sarah Barker issued an order extending the temporary restraining order until April 18. 

On April 9, 2009, Iacovelli filed an answer to Eppley's complaint and counter sued Eppley, his lawyer Todd Richarson, and Lewis & Kappes (Richardson's law firm). On April 13, 2009, the court accepted Iacovelli's answer to the complaint but rejected her counterclaims as not conforming to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. 

On April 17, the court granted Eppley's motion for a preliminary injunction.  The court found that Iacovelli's speech would not likely be protected by the First Amendment due to its defamatory and likely false nature as well as its lack of advancement of debate on a public issue. 

The preliminary injunction prevents Iacovelli or anyone in active concert with her from posting on the internet or emailing about Eppley, Eppley's attorneys, Lewis & Kappes, or referencing Eppley's actions with respect to Iacovelli's suicide threats.  It also requires her to remove any information about Eppley from any websites she controls, remove www.eppleyplasticsurgerysucks.com, www.barryeppleyplasticsurgeon.com, and www.lewis-kappessucks.com in their entirety, and refrain from registering any new websites that use Eppley's name.  It also requires her to remove any links to the listed websites until the conclusion of the lawsuit. 

Jurisdiction: 

CMLP Notes: 

Source: IBJ.com

RPK

Priority: 

1-High

Content Type: 

Subject Area: 

FORBA v. Hagan

Date: 

11/14/2008

Threat Type: 

Lawsuit

Party Receiving Legal Threat: 

Debbie Hagan

Type of Party: 

Organization

Type of Party: 

Individual

Court Type: 

Federal

Court Name: 

United States District Court for the Western District of Kentucky (Ownsboro)

Case Number: 

4:08-cv-00137-JHM

Legal Counsel: 

Pro se

Publication Medium: 

Blog

Relevant Documents: 

Status: 

Concluded

Disposition: 

Injunction Issued
Withdrawn

Description: 

FORBA Holdings, a dental practice management company, sued blogger Debbie Hagan after she posted internal FORBA documents on her blog, Dentist the Menace, which covers alleged misconduct in the dental profession.

According to the complaint, Google search crawlers indexed a password-protected FTP site hosting FORBA internal documents, and Hagan was able to obtain copies of these documents through a Google search for the term "forbainfo.com." The documents in question included marketing materials, recruitment strategy information, spreadsheets and facility information lists, as well as internal PowerPoint presentations. Hagan allegedly provided links to certain of the FORBA documents and posted copies of others for viewing and download.  FORBA contended that, by posting these materials, Hagan misappropriated trade secrets embodied in the confidential documents and infringed its copyrights in the PowerPoint presentations.  

FORBA also alleged that Hagan defamed the company on her blog by falsely claiming that FORBA engaged in "barbaric back alley dentistry and abusing children children in the process."

After filing suit, FORBA moved for a preliminary injunction barring Hagan from publishing its confidential and copyright-protected materials.  In November 2008, Hagan consented to the entry of a permanent injunction prohibiting her from publishing or posting "any internal and/or copyrighted documents or other information of FORBA obtained, directly or indirectly, through access to the FORBA FTP Site . . . and/or . . . any other internal and/or confidential FORBA documents or information. . . ."

FORBA subsequently dismissed its defamation claim voluntarily, and later moved to voluntarily dismiss the entire case without prejudice, leaving the consent injunction in n full force and effect. The court granted the motion in April 2009, dismissing the case and leaving the consent injunction in place. 

Jurisdiction: 

CMLP Notes: 

Via Marc Randazza

Priority: 

2-Normal

Content Type: 

Threat Source: 

User Feedback

Subject Area: 

Pages

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