Can you obtain temporary injunctive relief to prevent someone from continuing to make false and defamatory comments against you while your defamation lawsuit is pending? The Fifth District Court of Appeal was recently presented with this issue in Curvey v. Avante Group, Inc., 2021 WL 3934553 (Fla. 5th DCA 2021) and answered this question in the negative.
In Curvey, a resident’s mother sued a nursing home facility (Avante Group) for negligence and Avante Group filed a counterclaim for defamation against the resident’s mother claiming that the mother emailed third parties about Avante’s alleged misdeeds and created a website wherein the mother claimed that Avante experimented on patients without consent. While the lawsuit was pending, Avante moved for a temporary injunction against Curvey, prohibiting her from making allegedly false and defamatory comments against Avante. The lower court issued the temporary injunction, and Avante appealed, arguing that the temporary injunction was an unconstitutional prior restraint on her speech. The Fifth District Court of Appeal agreed.
The Fifth District Court of Appeal held that temporary injunctive relief is not available to prohibit the making of defamatory statements. The court went on to explain that the reason for this broad prohibition was twofold. First, the court held that a temporary injunction directed towards speech is a classic example of a prior restraint on speech triggering First Amendment concerns. Second, in the case of defamatory statements, the court found that there is an adequate remedy at law – an action for damages. The court did note a limited exception to the rule prohibiting temporary injunctions against defamatory speech, which is when the defamatory statements are made in furtherance of the commission of another intentional tort. However, finding the exception to be inapplicable, the court in Curvey ruled that the temporary injunction was improper and ordered that the injunction be dissolved.
Temporary injunctions can be an important tool in litigation if utilized properly. Rosenthal Law Group is experienced in handling injunctive relief litigation. Rosenthal Law Group can assist you with your litigation needs