Lawyer L. Lin Wood Enjoined from Violating Non-Disparagement Agreement

L. Lin Wood was a prominent lawyer who had been working with appellees. When that relationship came to an end, “the parties entered in a settlement agreement which contained the following nondisparagement clause.”

Non-Disparagement. LLW PC and L. Lin Wood, individually, agree not to disparage WGW…. Nothing in this provision prevents the Parties from providing truthful information about each other and its members in response to a court order or subpoena, or during any federal, state, or local governmental body investigation or proceeding….

Wood who has over 181,000 Twitter users, and his LLC, “accused” the Appellees with “criminal acts,” attacked [the Appellees’]”Characters, ethics, integrity, professionalism and professionalism to clients as well as the general public through multiple forums’, and they ‘expressed their intent to continue doing so.” It can be injoined. Judge Herbert Phipps and Chief Judge Brian Rickman joined Judge Christopher McFadden today to give their opinion. Wood v. Wade:

A few of the national cases that address interplay between contract rights, First Amendment and other issues were taken into consideration by the trial court. One example is in Cohen v. Cowles Media Co.(1991). The United States Supreme Court considered whether the First Amendment bars a plaintiff from obtaining damages under state promissory isoppel law for breaching confidentiality promises given to the plaintiff for information. It determined that the First Amendment didn’t confer upon the press any constitutional right not to disregarded promises otherwise enforced by state laws.[.]”

Similar results can also be found in Citing the Analysis CohenThe Colorado Supreme Court later ruled that the First Amendment did not bar a contract breach for violating a nondisparagement clause. Pierce v. St. Vrain Valley School Dist. RE-1J (Colo. 1999). Additional information: Aultcare Corp. v. Roach (Ohio Ct. App. A court in Ohio rejected an argument that an Ohio preliminary injunction to enforce a nondisparagement clause in a settlement agreement was an undue restrict on free speech. In the same way, Connecticut’s Supreme Court held that a judicial injunction enforcing confidentiality agreements did not violate the First Amendment’s ban on prior restraints. Perricone v. Perricone (2009).

A trial court’s order to vacate an injunction was also reversed by Vermont Supreme Court. The Court held that parties “may enter into agreements which waive their respective freedom of speech rights and that courts can enforce these agreements, without violating any provisions of the First Amendment.” Kneebinding, Inc. v. Howell (2018). These cases were deemed to establish the “existence of a trial court” by this judge.[p]rivate parties are free to enter into contracts waiving rights which the government would otherwise be bound to honor” and that enforcement of such agreements does not constitute an impermissible prior restraint….

[I]n Bryan v. MBC Partners L.P. (Ga. App. 2000), we considered a similar issue—whether an interlocutory injunction enforcing a restrictive covenant barring the erection of signs without the permission of a homeowner’s association committee violates the public policy of Georgia with respect to restraints on free speech. We are In BryanOne homeowner put up a sign at the front of his home that stated: “Before you buy a house in here please see us.” …

While an injunction will not ordinarily be granted to prevent the torts slander and libel (no matter how outrageous or illegal the communications), a person can “waive or renounce” what the law holds in his favor, provided he does so without causing injury or effecting the public good. In this case it is especially important to note that “this ancient rule applies all the private relations between persons and does not include the waiver of constitutional right.” We also highlighted that “it is the supreme public policy of the State that courts do not allow parties to enter into contracts on any subject, or on any terms, except when it is prohibited by statute, public policy, or if there is clearly an injury to the public interests.” We concluded that the homeowner was free to waive both a constitutional and legal right regarding a matter like this. We concluded that enforcement of the restrictive covenants therefore did not violate public policy regarding restraints on free speech and that the superior court did not abuse its discretion in entering the interlocutory injunction to restrain the homeowner’s continuing violation of the restrictive covenants….

This reasoning is the same. While the interlocutory Injunction is in BryanIt was not a nondisparagement clause but a restrictive covenant. Both the homeowner and the lender were involved. BryanThe Appellants agreed to abide the waiver of their constitutional rights in this case. In BryanThe homeowner accepted a prohibition on all signs that were not approved by the HOA committee. The Appellants in this case agreed to not disparage the Appellees. Both the homeowner and Bryan and the Appellants here were at liberty to waive their constitutional right to free speech….

The trial court heard the argument of the Appellants that the “current litigation is pending” [they]Public and private comments may be made on the matter. [Appellees] in any forum, including social media, in statements to the press, and in private communications to clients and third parties” … The key preposition in the [relevant]The term “during” can be used to refer to “throughout the duration or at a particular point in the flow of a sentence. … The Appellants argue that “[t]he plain meaning of the word ‘during’ is temporal—i.e., while something is going on.” This argument ignores the fact that the meaning of “during” is purely based on its “duration” component. The Appellants’ third sentence interpretation would invalidate the Appellants agreement not to discredit the Appellees. We must consider all terms in conjunction to determine that there is no reasonable interpretation of third sentence. A party can provide truthful information (a), in response to court orders or subpoenas or (b), in any federal or state governmental body investigation, proceeding or in, according the trial judge, “within a pending Government investigation, proceeding or proceeding.” …

The Appellants contend that injunctions will be detrimental to the public interest as it harms “the public’s rights to know what is being said.” [the]All appellants must say about the case and [the] Appellees.” The injunction also restricts Mr. Wood’s ethical obligation to give full and comprehensive information to clients and potential clients, who ask about the ongoing litigation that has attracted considerable media attention. This includes information about the claims of the parties.

The implicit argument of the Appellants is that being unable to disparage the Appellees within the context this lawsuit causes harms the public interests. The Appellants did not provide any argument or cite any legal authority to support their claim that (a) there is a public interest in the Appellants being able to speak disparagingly about the Appellees in this lawsuit or (b), any such interest would be substantial enough to override the Appellees right to receive what was agreed upon in the settlement agreement. We don’t see any abuse of discretion on the part of the trial court in balancing these elements in favor of Appellees’ rights to receive what they have bargained for. This is especially true in view of the public policy that favors contract enforcement.

The injunction does not prohibit the Appellants making undisparaging statements about the case to the media. The injunction does not prohibit the Appellants’ from speaking out about the litigation and Appellees to clients or prospective clients. The trial court stated explicitly that the Appellants are allowed to “comment” on the litigation as long as the Appellees are not discredit. Consequently, the Appellants have not shown that granting interlocutory injunctive relief would disserve the public interest….