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Asbury MS Chev LLC v. Gooding

United States District Court, S.D. Mississippi, Northern Division

December 22, 2017

ASBURY MS CHEV LLC d/b/a GRAY DANIELS CHEVROLET PLAINTIFF
v.
RONALD EDWARD GOODING DEFENDANT

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER DENYING PLAINTIFF'S MOTIONS [5][9] FOR PRELIMINARY INJUNCTION

          HALIL SULEYMAN OZERDEN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         BEFORE THE COURT are the Motion [5] for Preliminary Injunction and Amended Motion [9] for a Preliminary Injunction, both filed by Plaintiff Asbury MS CHEV LLC d/b/a Gray Daniels Chevrolet (“Gray Daniels”). The Court finds that the Motions should be denied.

         I. BACKGROUND

         A. Gray Daniels' Complaint

         On December 4, 2017, Gray Daniels filed a Complaint [1] and Demand for Arbitration against Defendant Ronald Gooding (“Gooding”). Gray Daniels alleges it employed Gooding as a vehicle salesman from May 22, 2014, until he was terminated on or about October 14, 2017. Compl. [1] at 2. In essence, Gray Daniels' Complaint claims that Gooding has launched an online “tirade” against Gray Daniels via social media websites. Id. at 2-6. For example, on November 16, 2017, Gooding allegedly “posted a lengthy list of false accusations against Gray Daniel employees, ” including: “adultery; race discrimination and racism, generally; misuse of company assets; embezzlement; wire fraud; conspiracy to commit fraud; and sabotage.” Id. at 4.

         The Complaint raises three claims against Gooding. First, Gray Daniels brings a defamation claim, contending that Gooding's online statements were false and harmed Gray Daniels' reputation and financial interests. Id. at 6-7. Gray Daniels also asserts a defamation per se claim for Gooding's statements concerning Gray Daniels' trade and business and his accusations that Gray Daniels committed crimes. Id. at 7. Lastly, Gray Daniels pleads a claim of tortious interference with business relations, which also stems from Gooding's alleged statements. Id. at 8. The Complaint seeks injunctive relief and money damages. Id. at 9.

         B. Gray Daniels' Motion for Temporary Restraining Order

         On December 4, 2017, Gray Daniels filed a Motion [3] for a Temporary Restraining Order, requesting that this Court “enter a Temporary Restraining Order requiring Gooding to immediately cease and desist his publication of any defamatory content attacking the business practices and reputation of Gray Daniels and its employees, including removing any existing content from public view.” Mot. [3] at 3. Gray Daniels' Motion recited a number of Gooding's purported online posts and alleged that the “statements made by Gooding are patently false” such that it will be able to show that Gooding committed defamation. Pl.'s Mem. [4] at 3-6. On December 6, 2017, the Court entered an Order [6] Denying Plaintiff's Motion for Temporary Restraining Order, concluding that Gray Daniels did not carry its burden of establishing the required elements for such relief. Order [6] at 4-10.

         C. Gray Daniels' Motions for Preliminary Injunction

         On December 5, 2017, Gray Daniels filed a Motion [5] for a Preliminary Injunction. Gray Daniels did not file a memorandum brief in support of that Motion, [1] and the record does not indicate that Gray Daniels served Gooding with the Motion.[2] In this Motion, Gray Daniels alleges that Gooding has posted “false, offensive, defamatory and threatening statements directed at Gray Daniels on Facebook, Google and other social media.” Mot. [5] at 1-2. According to Gray Daniels, Gooding made the following accusations:

(i) Gray Daniels has committed crimes and civil rights violations, and engages in racial discrimination; (ii) Gray Daniels' employees are morally unfit and incapable of performing in automotive dealer industry and trade; (iii) Gray Daniels discharged Gooding because of his reporting alleged improper personal conduct of Gray Daniels' employees; (iv) Gray Daniels had attempted to bribe Gooding to conceal the ‘crimes' alleged by Gooding; and (v) Gray Daniels has engaged in thievery and rip-offs.

Id. at 2.

         The Motion requests that this Court “enter a preliminary injunction requiring Gooding to immediately cease and desist his publication of any defamatory content attacking the business practices and reputation of Gray Daniels and its employees, including removing any existing content from public view.” Id. at 3. On December 7, 2017, Gray Daniels filed its Amended Motion [9] for a Preliminary Injunction. This Amended Motion is essentially a verbatim copy of Gray Daniels' original Motion [5] for a Preliminary Injunction. Gray Daniels did not file a memorandum brief in support of the Amended Motion. Gray Daniels served Gooding with the Amended Motion by mail. Am. Mot. [9] at 4. To date, Gooding has not filed a response.

         II. DISCUSSION

         A. Le ...


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