Everything online journalists need to protect their legal rights. This free resource culls from all Reporters Committee resources and includes exclusive content on digital media law issues.
A Dallas judge found earlier this week that a plaintiff who tried to silence a blogger through a temporary injunction in a defamation suit did not meet the burden for the injunction.
Judge Mark Greenberg of Dallas County Court at Law #5 denied on Wednesday the request of Fernando Rosales, who filed a defamation suit against Avi Adelman and his blog BarkingDogs.org in December. Rosales, the owner of a Dallas bar called Lost Society, filed a request in March for a temporary injunction against the website asking that the judge shut down the blog and prevent Adelman from printing anything about Rosales in future posts.
It also called for Adelman to remove content discussing the restaurant or Rosales, who alleges that Adelman made false statements about the bar on the blog and claimed that the statements have resulted in “damages and loss of business dealings.”
In the plaintiff's brief in support of the application for injunction, Rosales' attorney notes: "Movant requests a[n] evidentiary hearing to allow the court to determine whether these statements oublished [sic] y Defendant are defamatory and whethere [sic] to issue a limited temporay [sic] injunction, that includes a time. place and manner, ordering only defendants not to repeat these defamatory statements."
In a brief opposing the plaintiff’s order, the defense said granting the request “would constitute a prior restraint on speech, which is unconstitutional under the Texas and United States Constitutions.”
In Wednesday’s ruling, the judge noted in his decision that “[a]fter considering the parties’ briefs and arguments of counsel, the Court finds that Plaintiffs have not sustained their burden of establishing entitlement to a temporary injunction.” He did not elaborate.
The decision marked Rosales’ second failed attempt to have the posts removed. In December, his attorney filed a request for a temporary restraining order on the blog. That request said: “The Court should order that the Defendants, Avia Aderman [sic] and Barkingdog.org [sic] be restrained from publishing defamatory statements concerning plaintiffs, Fernado [sic] Rosales, Lost Society and Initiatve [sic] Partners, LLC.”
Adelman noted that Rosales is simply trying to shut down the website before going to trial.
"This was the second attempt by the plaintiff Fernando Rosales to close down my website, remove previously published content, and place a prior restraint on future posts he believes are defamatory," Adelman said in an email message. "If they think they have such a solid case, let them bring it to the court and go to a trial now, instead of trying to short circuit the process by shutting the website down first then holding a trial at their convenience only."
Adelman added that this second failed attempt by the plaintiff should make Rosales reconsider his efforts: "And instead of taking me to court, he should change the business practices at the so-called neighborhood bar he owns in order to stop drawing the attention of the local authorities, neighborhood residents and my blog."