United States District Court, C.D. California
ORDER DENYING EX PARTE APPLICATION FOR TEMPORARY RESTRAINING ORDER AND ORDER TO SHOW CAUSE RE PRELIMINARY INJUNCTION [Dkt. No. 23]
DEAN D. PREGERSON, District Judge.
On August 6, 2014, Plaintiff Ondrea Tye ("Plaintiff") filed suit against her sister, Defendant Jeanette Runyon ("Defendant"), alleging claims of defamation, civil harassment, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and false light violation of privacy. (See First Amended Complaint, Dkt. No. 9.) The Court subsequently dismissed the civil harassment and false light claims. (See Dkt. No. 20.)
Plaintiff now seeks a temporary restraining order ("TRO") that would prevent Defendant from posting Plaintiff's personal emails online. (See Dkt. No. 23.) Plaintiff also requests an order to show cause why a preliminary injunction should not be granted regarding the same behavior. (Id.) The Court, having considered Plaintiff's submission, GRANTS the application for a TRO and the request for an order to show cause.
II. LEGAL STANDARD
Requests for temporary restraining orders are governed by the same general standards that govern the issuance of a preliminary injunction. See Stuhlbarg Int'l Sales Co., Inc. v. John D. Brush & Co., Inc., 240 F.3d 832, 839 n. 7 (9th Cir. 2001). An injunction is a matter of equitable discretion and is "an extraordinary remedy that may only be awarded upon a clear showing that the plaintiff is entitled to such relief." Winter v. Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc., 555 U.S. 7, 22 (2008).
"A plaintiff seeking a preliminary injunction must establish that he is likely to succeed on the merits, that he is likely to suffer irreparable harm in the absence of preliminary relief, that the balance of equities tips in his favor, and that an injunction is in the public interest." Winter, 555 U.S. at 20. A preliminary injunction "should not be granted unless the movant, by a clear showing, carries the burden of persuasion." Mazurek v. Armstrong, 520 U.S. 968, 972 (1997) (citation omitted).
In this case, Plaintiff has not made a clear showing that she is entitled to relief. Firstly, Plaintiff has not demonstrated that she would suffer irreparable harm. Plaintiff has known of Defendant's online postings since the commencement of her suit. Plaintiff has also known that Defendant has posted Plaintiff's emails online since October 2014, when Plaintiff filed her Amended Complaint. See Dkt. No 18, ¶¶ 11, 18. Thus, Plaintiff has had many months to seek injunctive relief in the form of a preliminary injunction, but has only now done so. The Court cannot find that Plaintiff will suffer irreparable harm if Plaintiff is not granted the relief she requests.
Furthermore, the balance of equities and the public interest do not weigh in Plaintiff's favor. Although Plaintiff may succeed on the merits of her defamation claim, the Court cannot find that enjoining Defendant from posting Plaintiff's emails online would be directly relevant to that claim. Plaintiff has cited to multiple examples of Defendant posting attacks of Plaintiff's character online in her First Amended Complaint as well as in her application for a TRO. Defendant's online statements accuse Plaintiff of being mentally ill, harassing Defendant, impersonating Defendant, and cyber-stalking Defendant, among other things. These statements could reasonably be found to be defamatory. However, the actual emails that are the subject of Plaintiff's TRO are not Defendant's own writings or speech; rather, they are emails Plaintiff wrote and sent to a third party that were then forwarded to Defendant. Given the circumstances, the Court cannot say that Plaintiff has a strong privacy interest in her emails. The balance of equities does not tip in Plaintiff's favor, and injunctive relief in this instance would not advance the public interest.
A TRO is an "extraordinary remedy that may only be awarded upon a clear showing that the plaintiff is entitled to such relief." Winter, 555 U.S. at 22. The Ninth Circuit has limited the issuance of ex parte TROs to a "very few circumstances." Reno Air Racing Ass'n., Inc. v. McCord, 452 F.3d 1126, 1131 (9th Cir.2006). The Court concludes that Plaintiff has not shown that she is entitled to such a remedy.
For the reasons stated above, Plaintiff's Application for a TRO and Order to ...